3/13/2013 4:38 P.M. ET
If given choice, Bass would prefer to be in rotation
Righty split last year between starting and relieving, may be long man in 'pen
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There are few certainties with the Padres' staff at this point, but all signs point to right-hander Anthony Bass making the Opening Day roster.
What role Bass pitches in remains to be determined, though he pulls no punches when asked which job he'd like to have this season.
"I want to start," Bass said Wednesday. "That's where I feel comfortable the most, that's where I feel I have the best stuff. You don't want to get hidden in the bullpen."
Bass has done both jobs for San Diego and, at times, has done both jobs well. In his first six appearances a year ago, including four starts, Bass had a 2.30 ERA. In nine relief appearances, Bass had a 2.63 ERA.
Where Bass struggled a year ago was minimizing damage and avoiding the big inning. That's not entirely an uncommon conundrum for a young pitcher -- Bass is 25 years old. He finished the season with a 4.73 ERA over 24 games.
"He needs to find a way to get through a crisis," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said of Bass a year ago. "It's nothing mechanical. But it's a matter of getting over the hump where he's got to realize that a crisis is happening.
"It's knowing that you might give up one or two runs, but you have to stay away from giving up four or five."
But it's also about being healthy, which is something Bass wasn't after suffering inflammation of his right shoulder during a start against the Rangers on June 20 at Petco Park.
"I was kind of on cruise control, things were going so well," Bass said. "But in the fifth inning, I threw a breaking ball and felt a sharp pain in my shoulder. I thought I could pitch through it."
But Bass quickly discovered he couldn't, and left the game after five innings, having allowed one run.
"It was the first time I've been hurt in my professional career. That wasn't easy," Bass said. "I was only supposed to be out 2 1/2 weeks and it ended up being longer than that."
Bass landed on the disabled list where he stayed until he was reinstated on Sept. 4. He pitched in relief the rest of the way, with the exception of Oct. 2 against the Brewers when Casey Kelly was scratched.
"Looking back, when I was successful, I was getting ahead, not getting into too deep of counts," Bass said. "I was finishing guys off once I got ahead. That's the mindset I've had this spring and the mindset that I'm taking into 2013."
This season, Bass would like nothing better than to claim a spot in the rotation. The first four spots are essentially spoken for -- Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Jason Marquis and Eric Stults -- leaving a handful of pitchers to try to win the last spot.
If he doesn't make the rotation, Bass will likely be a long man in the bullpen.
"He's done good work out of the bullpen and saw flashes as a starter," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The resiliency is there, the head is there, it's not going to bother him [not starting]. And his mental flexibility is where he's fine either way."
Bass has looked good early in camp, allowing two runs in six innings over his first three appearances with six strikeouts and one walk.
He's been more vigilant about using his changeup more, a pitch he had success with last April, but went away from shortly thereafter.
"First and foremost, it's been establishing my fastball down in the strike zone and inside and out," Bass said. "I'm using my changeup more. The last year, year and a half, I relied more on my breaking ball as my out pitch. I'm trying to use my changeup more like in 0-2, 1-2 counts and just trying to put them away more.
"So far, I've been pretty pleased with the results."