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03/12/11 12:46 AM ET

Hot-hitting Rizzo among Padres' 11 cuts

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres cut their roster to 47 players Friday when they optioned six players and reassigned five others to their Minor League camp.

The team optioned pitchers Simon Castro, Jeremy Hefner, Evan Scribner, Aaron Poreda and catcher Luis Martinez to Triple-A Tucson.

The Padres also optioned infielder Jeudy Valdez to Class A Lake Elsinore.

The Padres reassigned pitcher Anthony Bass, infielders James Darnell, Anthony Rizzo, Andy Parrino and catcher Jason Hagerty to Minor League camp.

"As you move into March, you have to thin the room and move guys to the other side [to Minor League camp]," said Padres manager Bud Black.

All of the players will still be able to appear in Cactus League games and many will, like Rizzo, a first baseman who is off to a hot start this spring. Rizzo had four hits and two stolen bases in a victory Thursday against the Dodgers.

Rizzo is second on the team with eight hits and is hitting .444 with three doubles and four RBIs. Rizzo was one of four players obtained in the December deal with the Red Sox that saw the Padres send Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.

"He came in as advertised, on the baseball field and as far as his makeup and work ethic," Black said.

Minor League games with other Cactus League teams begin on March 18.

Quicker tempo helps Latos right himself

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Opening Day is less than three weeks away, so it only makes sense that Padres pitcher Mat Latos decided to pick up the pace Friday.

Latos, who struggled in his previous two appearances of the spring, decided to change his tempo against the Giants in a Cactus League game in Peoria.

"I went out there and picked up the momentum, picked up the pace instead of taking my time and maybe thinking too much," Latos said.

Latos allowed four runs on five hits in the first inning but settled down thereafter in the Giants' 6-4 victory over the Padres.

In his final three scoreless innings of work, Latos yielded but one hit. All told, he tallied no walks and two strikeouts. He threw 55 pitches (37 for strikes).

"I was throwing strikes. I threw my off-speed [pitches] for strikes, my fastball for strikes and my two-seamer [fastball] for strikes," Latos said.

Better still was that Latos -- who walked six in his first three innings of the spring -- did not issue a single free pass against the Giants.

"It's the first time I haven't walked someone in Spring Training," Latos said, smiling.

Latos' command was noticeably better than in his first two starts of the spring. It might have been a little too good, especially in the first inning when the Giants got those five hits off him -- including a two-run single by Emmanuel Burris on a breaking ball.

"That was a good sign," manager Bud Black said of Latos' outing. "I thought his overall stuff was good."

Latos said he benefited from a side session earlier in the week with Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. The talks didn't center so much on mechanics, but getting Latos to work quicker on the mound.

"I like to work quickly," he said.

Padres pledge fundraising support for Japan

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres announced Friday that they will raise funds to aid victims of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan.

The Padres will raise funds as part of their Japanese Heritage Night, scheduled for May 20 against the Seattle Mariners at PETCO Park.

The club also announced that it will match donations via the Padres Foundation and that more details will be announced as information becomes available.

"At a time like this we feel that it is important for the global community to become involved and support the people of Japan," Padres president and COO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families affected by the devastation and we pledge to help support the relief efforts as Japan begins to rebuild."

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