2/26/2013 6:45 P.M. ET
Versatile Amarista fills perfect role for NL club
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Utility man Alexi Amarista is far from a perfect player, but he might just be the ideal bench player for a National League team, according to manager Bud Black.
"His skill set does line up to be a very valuable part of a National League team," Black said Tuesday, when Amarista went 1-for-4 with an RBI and run scored against the Reds, starting at second base before moving to center field. "[He can play] second, short, third, left, right, center. He can do the little game, he has a little bit of pop, and I trust him on defense."
The Padres acquired Amarista from the Angels in May 2012 along with right-handed pitcher Donn Roach in a deal that sent reliever Ernesto Frieri to Los Angeles.
Amarista hit .240 with five home runs and 32 RBIs in 275 at-bats, and played everywhere in the infield but first base while seeing time at all three outfield positions.
"I was very happy with the work I did," Amarista said through an interpreter. "This year, I need to do a little more. I'm trying to make adjustments. My job is to get on base."
Amarista did plenty of that following the trade, as he hit .341 in June and .282 in July. But he struggled thereafter, often expanding the strike zone. Once August hit, he batted .198 with 20 strikeouts.
"He's got to walk a little more," said Black, noting Amarista had 17 walks in 105 games.
Amarista, who is listed at 5-foot-8, hit two home runs in a June 30 game at Coors Field. And two days before that, he hit a grand slam off Brett Myers as part of a six-run ninth inning in Houston.
"He's got a little bit of scary pop," Black said.
Black said he has no qualms about using Amarista late in games, no matter the position.
"He'll never lose you a game on defense," Black said.
Bass impresses early, hopes to remain healthy
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two months and two days. That's the precise amount of time pitcher Anthony Bass spent on the disabled list in 2012 with an inflamed right shoulder.
Bass didn't need to consult a media guide to be sure, either.
"It wasn't fun," he said.
Bass would like nothing more than to go through an entire season healthy, especially after losing time in 2012, a season that started off with such promise.
Bass tossed two scoreless innings against the Reds on Tuesday in his first spring appearance. He was so efficient, throwing only 16 pitches, that he threw 12 more in the bullpen after he left the game.
"Enough to get me ready for my next start," he said.
Bass, one of several candidates in camp trying to crack the starting rotation, allowed one hit to Donald Lutz, then induced a double-play ball from Jason Donald to escape the second inning and end his day.
"My take on this whole competition is I'm going to go out and pitch my game," Bass said. "I'm going to go out there and show the team I can help them win."
Bass went 2-8 with a 4.73 ERA last season in 24 games, including 15 starts. He started fast, posting a 2.30 ERA in six April games, including four starts. He carried a shutout into the seventh inning on April 28 in San Francisco, allowing two runs in eight innings while striking out eight, but still taking a loss.
Then he went on the disabled list in June with an inflamed right shoulder.
If Bass isn't among the pitchers to make the rotation, he's shown the Padres he can pitch in relief. That versatility could come in handy, especially early in the season.
• Catcher John Baker was scratched from the starting lineup Tuesday with a sore right wrist. He was replaced by Yasmani Grandal, who faced his former team in Cincinnati. Black indicated that Baker will be fine. "During the season, John would be playing," he said. Baker and Nick Hundley are expected to get most of the playing time at catcher this spring with Grandal suspended for the first 50 games.
• Jedd Gyorko hit a pinch-hit home run Tuesday in the eighth inning of the Padres' 7-5 victory against the Reds. For Gyorko, it was already his third home run of the spring in 10 at-bats. Gyorko, who is trying to win the Opening Day second base job, hit 30 home runs last season in two Minor League stops. Gyorko's nine RBIs are the most among any player this spring in the Grapefruit of Cactus League.
• The Padres will have their first split-squad games of the season Wednesday, both at 12:05 p.m. PT. Sean O'Sullivan will get the start and is scheduled for three innings in a game against the Rockies in Peoria. O'Sullivan tossed two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut against the Mariners last week. He's a non-roster invitee with an outside shot of making the team. Eric Stults makes his first start of the spring in a game against the A's in Phoenix. He's likely set to go two innings, as well, and has a good shot to make the Padres' starting rotation to open the season.