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03/20/11 10:15 PM ET

Padres find a No. 3 hitter in Hudson

PEORIA, Ariz. -- He might not fit the traditional blueprint of an ideal No. 3 hitter, but it appears as if new second baseman Orlando Hudson could get most of his at-bats in that spot for the Padres this season.

"I like the switch-hitting capability, I like the veteran presence in that spot. And with our personnel ... it gives us three guys who can get on base to set up the guys hitting fourth, fifth and sixth," Padres manager Bud Black said.

Hudson, who signed a two-year deal in December, has spent most of the spring hitting in the No. 3 hole. During the Padres' 14-4 victory over the Cubs on Saturday, Hudson had two doubles, drove in a run, and scored a run.

Overall, he's hitting .323 this spring, with a .382 on-base percentage in his first 31 at-bats.

Black envisions Hudson hitting behind leadoff hitter Will Venable and No. 2 hitter Jason Bartlett -- who can handle the bat, and will be asked to bunt and move runners over.

"I think with him there, we have a lot of different options," Black said. "It puts two guys at the top of the order who I think are going to be productive on the basepaths. We can do some things with those guys, like hit-and-run."

Hudson, who has spent most of his Major League career hitting second in the lineup, has extensive experience hitting third.

Hudson has 860 career at-bats in that spot, and has fared better -- .294 batting average and a .360 on-base percentage -- in the three-hole than his overall career line (.280 average and .346 on-base percentage).

"It's a little different [than hitting second], but you've just got to get your mindset right," Hudson said on Sunday. "In the two-hole, you've got to get guys over, hit-and-run, and even bunt a bit.

"Either way, no matter where you hit, you've still got to have quality at-bats."

Of course, the Padres got plenty of those from the player Hudson will be replacing in that spot -- All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was traded to the Red Sox in the offseason.

Gonzalez accounted for 27 of the 31 home runs and 88 of the 108 RBIs the Padres got out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup a year ago.

"I did it in Arizona and almost the whole time I was in Los Angeles," said Hudson, who got all of his at-bats with the Twins last season hitting second. "I just want to contribute wherever the manager puts me."

Patterson showing some unlikely pop

PEORIA, Ariz. -- When the Padres acquired infielder/outfielder Eric Patterson from the Red Sox as the player to be named later in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer said he considered Patterson an ideal National League player.

It's beginning to look like Patterson, who spent time with the A's and Red Sox, has not forgotten his roots in the hitter-friendly American League.

Patterson, who figures to make the team as a utility man, has certainly shown some pop in his bat this spring -- with nine extra-base hits, including seven doubles.

Entering play Sunday, Patterson was tied with four other players for the most doubles in the National League.

All of this is coming from a player who enters 2011 with 18 doubles in 419 Major League at-bats.

"It's just a product of a shorter swing than I've had in the past," Patterson said on Sunday. "In the past, my swing has been long, and my front foot was getting down late. It made hitting tough.

"Right now, I'm trying to be shorter to the ball, and I've been getting a lot more barrel."

LeBlanc has best spring outing vs. Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Wade LeBlanc can read a calendar, so it was pretty obvious to him that he needed to pitch well on Sunday against the Mariners.

"As you start getting closer [to Opening Day], you want to start rounding into game form ... you want to start seeing results," LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc -- the leading candidate for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation -- had his best start of the spring on Sunday, as he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings of the Padres' 4-1 loss to the Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex.

LeBlanc, who struck out five and walked one, threw 81 pitches and felt good about how he pitched.

"I feel like the results were where they needed to be," said LeBlanc, who now has a 7.78 ERA this spring.

San Diego manager Bud Black felt the same way, noting that "there weren't many hard-hit balls against him."

LeBlanc allowed two runs in the fifth inning, with both runs coming on an infield chopper that glanced off the glove of third baseman Jorge Cantu.

"He had a good changeup, and got in on some guys with the fastball. ... He mixed all his pitches," Black said.

In his last start against the Angels on March 15, LeBlanc opened with two scoreless and crisp innings. He eventually allowed three home runs later in that start.

LeBlanc is competing with right-hander Dustin Moseley and, to a lesser extent, another left-hander, Cory Luebke, for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Kelly impresses in Padres Minor League debut

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Pitcher Casey Kelly, the prized prospect the Padres received from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, tossed four scoreless innings on Sunday in his Minor League debut this spring.

Kelly allowed four hits in four innings, and had two strikeouts and didn't walk a batter in a game played against the Royals' Double-A team in Surprise.

Kelly impressed Padres manager Bud Black and his staff during his time in Major League camp this spring, tossing five scoreless innings over three appearances.

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.