© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/23/10 7:51 PM ET

Cabrera close to returning to Padres

ST. PETERSBURG -- Barring any setbacks, shortstop Everth Cabrera will join the team on Friday in Florida for the start of a three-game series against the Marlins.

Cabrera, who has missed 41 games in two separate disabled-list stints due to a strained right hamstring, played his third Minor League rehabilitation game on Wednesday with Triple-A Portland.

Cabrera went 1-for-4 with a stolen base on Tuesday, and Padres manager Bud Black said he received a favorable report from Portland manager Terry Kennedy about how Cabrera looked and felt.

"T.K. said he's running well, that he's confident," Black said. "We'll see how he comes out of [Wednesday's] game."

Cabrera played three games with Class A Lake Elsinore before joining Portland. The game on Wednesday was his third with the Beavers.

When Cabrera returns, it will allow Black more flexibility with his roster, as veteran Jerry Hairston Jr. -- who has made 44 starts at shortstop -- can go back to a utility role and spell third baseman Chase Headley on occasion.

Headley has started all but two games at third base this season, because with Cabrera out, the Padres haven't had a player they could use with full confidence at third base.

Padres have been slowed on bases

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Padres' running game, one they emphasized not only in Spring Training but early in the season, hasn't exactly come to a complete halt lately, though it's certainly slowed.

The Padres stole 44 bases in 55 attempts in their first 35 games. Over their past 35 games, the Padres have stolen 20 bases in 33 attempts.

And two of those steals (in three attempts) came from Tony Gwynn in Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Rays.

What gives? Two things, said Padres manager Bud Black.

"We've faced a string of left-handers over a period, and the ones we faced did a pretty good job of controlling our running game," Black said. "Also, we hadn't gotten on base at the rate we were earlier in the year."

But Black said that "teams have taken notice. They've paid more attention to our running game once they saw what was happening early on."

Black said that's been especially true when the Padres have faced the same team multiple times.

San Diego has faced 27 left-handed starting pitchers this season.

First-year general manager Jed Hoyer has pushed an aggressive initiative since his hire in October, not just stealing more bases but being aggressive on the bases. The Padres have done just that in Spring Training and well into the regular season.

Eckstein takes bats into his own hands

ST. PETERSBURG -- When a shipment of bats from Louisville Slugger arrived recently for Padres second baseman David Eckstein, he held a few in his hands and decided they needed some additional tailoring.

So Eckstein borrowed a hand-held wood scrapper to shave down the handles of the bats in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field before Wednesday's game against the Rays.

"The handles are thicker than I like them," Eckstein said. "It might not have made much of a difference, but I have smaller hands."

Eckstein stood over a garbage can and shaved down the handles of four bats. Several of Eckstein's teammates and coaches stopped by for a look and jokingly referred to the fact that he was doctoring his bats.

Why is it important to shave the handles?

"I feel that with a smaller handle, I can control the bat much better," Eckstein said.

Prospect Cumberland on the move

ST. PETERSBURG -- Padres shortstop prospect Drew Cumberland went 1-for-3 in the California/Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday.

That appears to have been Cumberland's last taste of baseball at the Class A level.

Cumberland, who hit .365 in the first half of the season at Lake Elsinore, was promoted to Double-A San Antonio on Wednesday after a first half in which he had 91 hits in 60 games. Cumberland was in Wednesday's lineup for San Antonio and batting leadoff.

On Tuesday, Cumberland was selected to play for the United States Team next month in the 12th annual Futures Game in Anaheim.

Cumberland wasn't the only player from Lake Elsinore to have some success in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Closer Brad Brach earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning. Also, pitcher Anthony Bass tossed a scoreless inning in relief.

In the Midwest League All-Star Game, Fort Wayne pitcher Jerry Sullivan struck out two in one inning and was the winning pitcher for the East team. Reliever Miles Mikolas set down the only hitter he faced in the game.

Fort Wayne teammates Danny Payne and Nate Freiman each had hits in the game.

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