7/20/2013 7:45 P.M. ET
O'Sullivan acclimates himself to bullpen role
By Chad Thornburg / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Every time the phone rang in the Padres bullpen Friday, a rush of adrenaline would overcome an eager Sean O'Sullivan. Some relievers would immediately react to the call, instinctively knowing it's time to warm up before their names are even mentioned.
But not O'Sullivan. This was a relatively foreign situation for the 25-year-old right-hander who was recently relegated to the 'pen, just six days after his first and only start of the season. He hadn't made a relief appearance since April 6, 2011 with the Kansas City Royals. Of his 45 career games, just 10 have been as a reliever.
"My whole career, I've basically been used to having 35, 40 minutes to get ready for a game, so my body is kind of trained that way," O'Sullivan said. "It's a whole lot different to say, 'Hey, get up, get hot, we're gonna need you in two batters, or three batters or one batter. That's going to be an adjustment."
O'Sullivan was called upon to pitch the seventh and the eighth innings on Friday against the Cardinals. He surrendered three runs on five hits and one walk in a game that was decided by three scores.
"[Friday], I didn't feel very prepared for the situation," O'Sullivan said. "But I won't let that happen again."
Manager Bud Black said the idea behind the move is to give the Padres an extra long reliever, offering another option to soak up some innings if a starter were to get into some early trouble.
O'Sullivan still considers himself a starter, believing that's likely where his career longevity lies and where he's been most successful. But he said he's open to helping the team in whatever way he can, and he understands he can improve as a pitcher, no matter when he enters the game.
"Any time you're on the mound in the big leagues throwing pitches to hitters, you're finding something out about yourself," O'Sullivan said. "If they're good things, you take those and you lock them in your safe and you have them ready for next time. If they're bad things, you find something to improve on."
Venable's bat comes alive in St. Louis
Busch Stadium has been kind to Will Venable.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Padres outfielder was batting .435 (20-for-46) with six runs, three doubles, a triple, a homer and four RBIs in 13 career games at the Cardinals' ballpark. Venable's average is his best at any ballpark and is tops among all active Major League players at Busch Stadium.
"It's just kind of like I could feel really comfortable off a certain pitcher and Chase [Headley] could feel terrible off him," Venable said. "Or if he sees a guy great, or I see him terrible. It's just kind of one of those things where different guys have different places they like to hit, different pitchers they like to hit. And sometimes there's not a whole lot of explanation."
Venable knew he had some good games in St. Louis, but he was unaware of his impressive stretch against the Cardinals, adding that he enjoys the atmosphere of the park. He said he noticed the National Anthem was performed about 15 minutes earlier than usual Friday night, and he was impressed that Busch Stadium was still nearly filled to capacity.
"You could just tell that that baseball game was a priority for the town, for the city of St. Louis," Venable said. "They were there early. Positive energy. Even the hecklers are pretty nice. It's just a lot of tradition, just a fun place to play."
• Black said his announcement on Tuesday's starter vs. Milwaukee will come on Sunday. He said he has a clear idea on who will likely start, but he still has a few decisions to make. He will inform the pitcher before making an official announcement.
• Though his .232 average is his worst since hitting .222 in his rookie season, Headley has strung together some solid at-bats over his last 11 games, batting .333 (13-for-39) with six runs, six doubles, a homer and six RBIs in that span. Headley is batting .288 this month with an on-base percentage of .397.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.