05/15/2013 1:25 AM ET
Prospect Smith adapting to Majors with coaches' help
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Having dispensed of one substantial first in his Major League career on Saturday when he made his Major League debut against the Rays, Padres starting pitcher Burch Smith had yet another noteworthy first on Tuesday afternoon -- his first side session.
Four hours before the Padres faced the Orioles at Camden Yards, Smith, pitching coach Darren Balsley and bullpen coach Willie Blair spent time in the bullpen for a between-starts session that was as much philosophical as it was physical.
"I'm anxious to get back out there and throw again," Smith said.
Smith worked a 1-2-3 first inning against the Rays on Saturday and then allowed six runs in the second without getting an out. He'll start on Friday at Petco Park against the Nationals.
When he does start again, Smith aims to use his curveball and changeup more. He threw only four non-fastballs out of 42 pitches total against the Rays.
"I think the side session went well, and I tried to absorb as much information as I could. We discussed the differences between a fastball-dominant pitcher in the Minor Leagues and one in the big leagues," Smith said.
"I'm learning when it's a good time to throw a curveball or changeup. I'm going to try and incorporate that in my next start."
When Smith was promoted last week -- he arrived on Friday in St. Petersburg -- manager Bud Black and his staff, as typically is the case, let him pore over scouting reports but didn't meddle much, knowing that Smith, much like other rookies, had a lot on his mind already.
"I don't think there was a lot of information exchanged before his first start," said Black. "He was coming off a great run in Double-A. And you don't want to fill a young guy with too much information -- too much to analyze."
On Tuesday, though, Smith worked closely with Balsley and Blair. They watched the spin of his curveball and the action on his changeup. They talked about pitch sequencing and mechanics.
"It was big for him -- and Darren and Willie to see him in a normal side session. Today, they were able to see the pitches that he's going to have to use in Major League games," Black said. "Today was a good situation, fundamentally."
Cabrera, Padres excel at hitting with two outs
BALTIMORE -- The Padres' offense has generally been better since their 5-15 start, especially with two outs in an inning.
Entering Tuesday's game against the Orioles, the Padres have scored 30 of their last 52 runs with two outs, going back to the fifth inning of a game on April 30 against the Cubs.
In fact, the Padres scored five of their seven runs in Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Rays with two outs.
"We've had a really nice run there, and it was noticeable during our streak of victories," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Now the trick is, we've got to sustain it."
Overall this season, the Padres are hitting .258 (108-for-418) with 18 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 62 RBIs, and a .740 OPS with two outs going into Tuesday's game.
Everth Cabrera leads the team with 15 hits with two outs. Chris Denorfia and Jedd Gyorko each have 13 two-out hits. Denorfia has hit .325 in 40 at-bats with two outs and posted a team-best eight RBIs.
In Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the Orioles, the Padres scored two runs with two outs on singles by Denorfia and Cabrera, both during a frantic, ninth-inning comeback.
Thatcher successful against righties and lefties
BALTIMORE -- Relief pitcher Joe Thatcher fully understands and even embraces his role as a left-handed specialist, but there are times when he wouldn't mind a different title.
"I think I'm more than just a lefty specialist," Thatcher said.
In a relatively small sample-size this season, Thatcher has actually pitched more like a right-handed specialist -- with right-handers hitting .250 (6-for-24) and lefties hitting .350 (7-for-22) off him.
"I take pride in getting righties out, too," said Thatcher, who has a 1.69 ERA in 17 appearances. "My job is still to get lefties out, and I feel like when I've been brought in to face one, I've been able to do that. But a few hits are just falling in or sneaking through the infield."
Going into Tuesday's game against the Orioles, Thatcher had not allowed a run in his last 9 2/3 innings, and he held opponents scoreless in 16 of his 17 appearances this season. The only runs he allowed came on April 7 against the Rockies at Coors Field.
For his career, Thatcher has held lefties to a .217 average in 339 at-bats. Thatcher has fared relatively well when facing righties (.268 average in 430 at-bats).
Why so many righties?
"A lot of times, they bring me in to face a lefty, and the other team will bring in a righty," Thatcher said.
• San Diego pitcher Clayton Richard, on the disabled list with an intestinal virus, will pitch on Thursday for the Padres' Triple-A affiliate, the Tucson Padres, in a game in Des Moines, Iowa. Richard is expected to throw between 75-90 pitches and feature new mechanics that have him pitching from a higher arm slot. He had a simulated game Saturday in St. Petersburg with good results.