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09/11/08 10:00 PM ET

Ambres and Co. break out the pigskin

Padres outfielder revisits days as blue-chip football prospect

SAN DIEGO -- Outfielder Chip Ambres got a chance to test his arm on Thursday, though it didn't happen during the Padres' game against the San Francisco Giants.

Hours before the start of a four-game series, Ambres and several teammates threw around a football as part of an impromptu conditioning drill in the outfield.

That the football ended up in Ambres hands more often than not was no surprise, considering he was once a highly recruited quarterback at West Brook Senior High School in Beaumont, Texas.

How highly recruited? Ambres signed a letter of intent to play at Texas A&M, shunning such noted programs at Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska, all of which offered Ambres a scholarship.

"Then the Draft happened," Ambres said. "That sidetracked some things. I had no idea I was being viewed as a high pick."

The Florida Marlins made Ambres their first-round pick (27th overall) and offered him a signing bonus of $1.5 million. That was enough to get him to change him mind. So the football went in the closet.

"They asked me what it would take [to sign] and I told them it would be being picked in the first round," Ambres said. "I didn't think it would happen."

Ambres signed with the Marlins two days before classes started at Texas A&M and set about a professional baseball career that has seen him play with four different organizations.

Ambres, who is hitting .138 in 29 at-bats with the Padres this season, having spent almost the entire season with Triple-A Portland, still finds time to throw a football around, such as during the offseason at an athletic club in Houston called Velocity Sports Performance.

He's thrown passes to New Orleans Saints cornerback Aaron Glenn and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Robert Ferguson at the club.

"They didn't have anyone to throw to them, so I did," Ambres said.

As for his throwing session on Thursday, Ambres said it "felt good, kind of like the old days."

Ambres will always have a special place for football.

"It is always on my mind and in my blood," Ambres said, "especially around this time of year."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.