05/12/2013 5:45 PM ET
Amarista's homer highlights pink bats' productivity
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Pink bats were not just a popular choice for the Padres on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
They were productive as well, none more so than in one swing by second baseman Alexi Amarista, who drilled a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Rays.
That home run gave the Padres a 2-1 lead, one that would eventually dissolve into a 4-2 loss to the Rays in front a crowd of 17,396 that included many moms in the stands on Mother's Day.
Sunday marked the eighth straight Mother's Day when members of the Padres and the rest of Major League Baseball wore pink equipment and took to the plate with pink bats.
The pink is about honoring mothers, but it is also part of MLB's effort to raise breast cancer awareness.
Amarista was not the only member of the Padres to have success with a pink bat.
Teammate Yonder Alonso singled in Chase Headley in the fourth inning while swinging pink. Earlier in that inning, Carlos Quentin singled sharply to center field with a pink bat.
Home runs carrying Padres in recent games
ST. PETERSBURG -- Ever think you would see the day where a Padres team had its offense driven by the home run? That is precisely what has happened lately.
Heading into Sunday's series finale against the Rays, the Padres had hit 18 home runs over their last 13 games, including four home runs in the first two games of the Rays series.
The 18 home runs in that span is tied for fifth in the Major Leagues and second in the National League. Only the Indians (24 home runs), Pirates (23), Tigers (21) and Angels (20) have hit more home runs than the Padres in that span.
And the power is coming from different places, as 10 different players have home runs over the last 13 games, including Chase Headley and Will Venable, who have three home runs each in that stretch.
"If you look at this club and the makeup of this group, there's more raw power and strength through the lineup," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There are even guys at the bottom of the order who can pop the ball."
Padres close to setting up Draft board
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Padres are probably about two weeks away from putting up their Draft board in advance of baseball's First-Year Player Draft next month.
The board will have plenty of names, some more realistic than others for Chad MacDonald, the Padres' vice president and general manager of player personnel, who will preside over his second Draft.
The Padres have the No. 13 overall pick, which means the perceived elite group of players -- most likely seven or eight of them, according to those in the know -- could be gone by the time the team picks.
"There's probably more balance [in the Draft] than people give it credit for," MacDonald said. "There are a lot of high school hitters out there. I think people are quick to grade a Draft. But our only goal is to find people who can help us win games.
"We pick 13th, so everyone has to be in play."
The Padres have three of the top 69 picks in the Draft and four of the top 86 overall selections. The Draft will be held June 6 at MLB Network's Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J.
"The process has been really good," MacDonald said. "[Scouting director] Billy [Gasparino] has done an outstanding job of putting the pieces together."
The Padres promoted Gasparino in September after he had served as their national cross-checker since 2010.
The goal is to get as many eyes and evaluations on potential picks as possible, which means MacDonald, Gasparino, Bob Filotei, Kurt Kemp (national cross-checkers), Sean Campbell, Chip Lawrence, Tim Holt, Pete DeYoung (regional supervisors), Dan Cholowsky (adviser to amateur scouting) and Eddie Ciafardini (assistant, amateur scouting) have been busy.
The Padres have also had AJ Hinch (vice president, assistant general manager), Omar Minaya (senior vice president, baseball operations) and even general manager Josh Byrnes look at amateur players as well.
MacDonald is quick to credit the area scouts, the foot soldiers in this puzzle who first identify players and develop relationships with them, all while gauging if they will be good fits for the organization.
"One thing all successful organizations have in common is they trust their people," MacDonald said. "We have put good people in place. The area scouts drive the train and lead us to the player, the cross-checkers compare them to other guys in that region. But for me, the process has to start with the area scouts."
Guzman's rare feat comes against changeup
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jesus Guzman had trouble making contact with the changeup when he faced Clayton Richard during the pitcher's simulated game Saturday afternoon.
Guzman had no such trouble when he saw a changeup during the game, as he connected for a seventh-inning grand slam that was the major blow in a five-run inning that gave the Padres a lead in a game they eventually lost, 8-7.
Guzman actually saw plenty of changeups in his pinch-hit at-bat against Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson -- six of them, in fact.
"He threw me six of them in a row," Guzman said Sunday. "I've never seen that before."
Guzman laid off a 2-2 changeup down and then took advantage of another changeup that Hellickson got up in the strike zone, sending it over the wall in left field.
"Buddy [manager Bud Black] came up to me during the game and told me that someone was going to hit a changeup hard," Guzman said. "He told me to be ready."
It was the first Padres pinch-hit grand slam since Josh Barfield hit one against the Giants on Aug. 17, 2006, and the first pinch-hit slam on the road since Melvin Nieves did so Aug. 26, 1995, against the Mets.
"I was watching the game all day [from the bench]," Guzman said. "He [Hellickson] believed in that pitch."
• Rookie pitcher Burch Smith, who allowed six runs in the second inning Saturday and left the game after he retired just three batters, will remain in the starting rotation and pitch next week at Petco Park when the Padres face the Nationals.
"He was disappointed in his outing," Black said. "He will be back up on the horse later this week. But he's not going to back off his game."
The Padres would like to see Smith use his breaking ball more in his next start.