8/12/2013 8:54 P.M. ET
Padres aim to restore Kennedy to 2011 form
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
DENVER -- The sample size is still small, but Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley likes what he has seen so far from starting pitcher Ian Kennedy.
Kennedy, obtained July 31 from the D-backs, made his second start with the team Sunday against the Reds. Kennedy opened the game with seven scoreless innings before allowing a two-run home run in the eighth.
"He was excellent," Balsley said of Kennedy, who got a no-decision.
In two starts with the Padres, Kennedy is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 2/3 innings.
In addition to throwing his changeup for strikes -- Balsley said the pitch was a "plus-plus" pitch -- Kennedy did a good job working up in the strike zone, something that was missing when he was with the D-backs.
"I think everyone knows he has a good fastball," Balsley said. "But it's explosive. He throws 90 mph, but it plays like it's 93 or 94 mph. The high fastball is one of his strengths."
Kennedy was 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts this season with the D-backs. He is two seasons removed from winning 21 games and finishing fourth in the National League Cy Young Award vote.
The Padres see no reason why Kennedy can't return to that form -- and Balsley does not feel Kennedy is too far from it.
"It's not fixing things or changing them, but it's more getting them back to normal," Balsley said.
Balsley said Kennedy has been at his best when he has worked down and then worked his pitches up in the strike zone. Like with former Padres pitcher Chris Young, Kennedy's fastball up in the strike zone can appear a lot firmer than it actually is.
"I've watched a lot of video [from this season], and it had been more thigh-high this year," Balsley said.
Alonso's average up, but doubles down
DENVER -- Since returning from the disabled list in July, Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso was hitting .315 in 89 at-bats entering Monday. Twenty-six of 28 hits during that time were singles.
Alonso missed 34 games with a fractured bone in his right hand, which put the brakes on a fast start that saw him hit .284 with seven doubles and six home runs.
Although Alonso's average was up in the month since he came back from the hand injury, he had just two extra-base hits in those 89 at-bats, both doubles.
Not that he has noticed much.
"I don't really worry about that," Alonso said before Monday's game against the Rockies. "My season is going to be what my season is going to be.
"My goal is to get on base and drive guys in. As long as I have good at-bats, that's the way it goes. My goal would be to drive in more [runs], but sometimes you can't think about the numbers. I'm hitting balls hard."
Alonso had two hits Sunday against the Reds and had a .353 average in his last 13 games. Over his 21 games since the All-Star break, he was hitting .350, which is the 14th-best mark in the league over that stretch.
A year ago, Alonso finished tied for eighth in the league with 39 doubles. This season, he had nine over 279 at-bats entering Monday. He was hitting .294, up from the .273 overall mark he had in 2012.
"I think guys are pitching me a lot different, too, not giving in as much as they were earlier in the year," Alonso said. "But I think that for me, it's using the whole field and go from there. If I do that, I'll be fine."
Hundley on call as fatherhood nears
DENVER -- By the time you read this, Padres catcher Nick Hundley could still be in the team's lineup -- or he could just as easily be scurrying off to the airport to catch a flight to San Diego.
Hundley's wife, Amy, was due to give birth to the couple's first baby on Sunday.
But that did not happen, which was probably just fine with Hundley, who would have had a tougher time trying to get home to San Diego from Cincinnati -- where the team played a series over the weekend -- than from Denver.
"You're anxious about getting home if you need to," Hundley said. "But I think that it's harder on her ... not knowing. This is such an unbelievable thing; you're bringing someone into this world, and you want to do it as a family."
Hundley was in the starting lineup Monday against the Rockies for the first of three games at Coors Field. The team is set to fly back to San Diego after Wednesday's afternoon game. By then, Hundley might be a dad.
"I can't wait," he said.
If Hundley has to leave, the Padres will add a catcher, because Rene Rivera is the only other catcher on the 25-man roster. The Padres currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster, so they would not have to make any tough roster decisions to add a player.
If Hundley leaves during a game, manager Bud Black will press someone into duty as the emergency catcher.
"It's going to be an ambush call," Black said, joking.
The Padres would most likely use Logan Forsythe in a pinch behind the plate. Black said there was another in-house option -- 5-foot-8 utilityman Alexi Amarista.
"We've talk about Alexi, too," Black said, smiling. "He's a small target."
• Outfielder/first baseman Kyle Blanks -- on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left Achilles -- will not do anything this week in Denver other than hit and throw. He was to test his foot by running on it, but the team opted to wait until it returns home Thursday to do so.
"He's feeling better, but we've decided to wait until we get back home," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The soreness is decreasing."
Blanks has missed the Padres' last 25 games.