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02/24/10 6:19 PM EST
Padres look to pick up running pace
Team plans to be more aggressive on basepaths
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Look for the Padres to test opposing catchers more in Cactus League play and, quite possibly, in the regular season as well. San Diego manager Bud Black said Wednesday that the team will not only look to be more aggressive on the bases this spring but will also look to steal more bases. "We're trying to instill pushing the speed component. We want to push it more than we have in the past. You've got to test your limits," Black said. Last season, the Padres stole 23 bases in 36 attempts in the spring and then went on to steal 82 bases in 111 attempts during the regular season. Those 111 attempts were the most in Black's three seasons as manager. "There's more of a speed element on our team now than the previous three years," Black said. In 2008, the Padres stole just 36 bases in 53 attempts. In Black's first season, the Padres stole 55 bases in 79 attempts. "We have a lot more speed this year. We've got more of an on-base factor. That will be more important than anything else," Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "Our on-base percentage is going to be better, which means we're going to have a chance to drive in more runs."Having more people on the bases will help." Last season, the Padres got 25 steals from rookie Everth Cabrera. Two others players -- Tony Gwynn (11 steals) and Chase Headley (10) -- also reached double-figures. Scott Hairston, traded to the A's on July 5, had eight and likely would have joined that group. Will Venable had six steals in 95 games. Hairston rejoined the team in a trade with the A's in January. "I think that's a very exciting type of baseball, having guys in motion," Padres second baseman David Eckstein said. "I think what we've seen with our ballpark is a run can means is a lot. There's an emphasis of trying to score a run an inning instead of waiting for the big inning."
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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.