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04/23/2013 10:06 PM ET

Bonine brings knuckler to organization

SAN DIEGO -- Two of the Padres' top Minor League pitching prospects -- Burch Smith and Matt Wisler -- made starts for their respective teams on Tuesday.

Smith was pitching for Double-A San Antonio, while Wisler got a start for Class A Lake Elsinore. Smith is rated as the Padres' 20th-best prospect, while Wisler is No. 8, according to MLB.com .

However, the most intriguing arm in the system that got a start on Tuesday might have been right-hander Eddie Bonine, who signed a Minor League deal with the Padres last week after he was released by the D-backs.

Bonine got the start on Tuesday for Triple-A Tucson. He's doing so as a knuckleballer, a pitch that he has used occasionally before. He missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Bonine, 27, appeared in parts of three seasons (2007-10) with the Tigers. He had a 6.30 ERA over four games with the D-backs' Triple-A team in Reno before being released.

Headley putting best foot forward on slides

SAN DIEGO -- Third baseman Chase Headley stole his first base of the season on Sunday against the Giants, though it was not necessarily the way he wanted it to happen.

It was the first time Headley slid into second base since fracturing the tip of his left thumb during a Spring Training game on March 17.

In that game, Headley slid feet-first, trying to break-up a double play. On Sunday, he slid feet-first again because, well, that's what he's essentially been instructed to do.

"I don't think I slid headfirst one time last year, after it was made apparent to me that I shouldn't," Headley said.

Headley's incident in March isn't the first time he's injured a finger while sliding.

In August 2011, Headley fractured his left pinkie finger when he hooked it on the second-base bag during a stolen base attempt. He missed over a month of action.

"They basically told me after I broke my pinkie a few years ago that I couldn't slide headfirst," Headley said. "So I've been feet-first since then.

"But I still feel like it's faster and you can avoid more tags going headfirst. For me, the risk-reward isn't there. My primary job isn't to steal bases."

Actually, hitting is. Headley hit a career-best 31 home runs and led the National League with 115 RBIs a year ago. That said, he's always been a proficient baserunner. In 2010, he stole 17 bases. Last season, he stole 17 again.

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.