2/18/2014 2:35 P.M. ET
With 14 outfielders in camp, almost as many questions
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The word "muddled" might be a good way to describe the Padres' outfield picture, as the team has 14 outfielders in big league camp.
Of course, manager Bud Black had another viewpoint.
"It's a good problem to have," he said Tuesday.
Granted, not all 14 of the outfielders who reported to camp Tuesday -- the first full-squad workout is set for Wednesday -- figure into the team's plans this season. But many of them do.
Kyle Blanks, Alexi Amarista, Chris Denorfia, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Reymond Fuentes and Will Venable all saw time in the Padres outfield a year ago. Newcomer Seth Smith was added in a trade from the A's and Xavier Nady is in camp as a non-roster invitee.
There are questions with many of them: Is Maybin, coming off wrist surgery, healthy? How can the team find enough at-bats for Smith, a left-handed hitter? Will Denorfia play more than he did a year ago? Can Venable replicate the success he had in 2013?
And can Quentin, coming off his third knee surgery since joining the team on Dec. 31, 2011, play in more than 100 games?
Quentin had been limited to 168 games and 560 at-bats the last two seasons. Black indicated Monday that he's hoping Quentin can play in more than 100 games and can amass 450 to 500 at-bats.
"He expects to play," Black said. "He wants to play. It's bothered him that he hasn't gotten out there to the extent he wants to."
A Ross by any other name ... is still Ross
PEORIA, Ariz. -- A representative from Topps baseball cards who was in the Padres clubhouse Tuesday made a common gaffe when he mistook 20-year-old Minor Leaguer Joe Ross for his older brother, fellow pitcher Tyson Ross.
This case of mistaken identity no longer irks the younger Ross in the very least. If anything, it makes him laugh.
"I don't know how many times I've gotten that already," Ross said. "It's more media or fans, who see 'Ross' on my jersey and yell, 'Hey, Tyson.' It's funny and I enjoy it. It keeps me on my toes."
Joe Ross, whom the Padres took 25th overall in the 2011 Draft, is dressing in the same clubhouse and taking part in the same drills as his brother this week.
So far, Ross has mostly refrained from pestering the 26-year-old Tyson in camp.
"I try and do as much on my own as I can. But he's there for any questions that I have," Joe Ross said. "Every so often, he'll put in his two cents and give me a heads-up on things I can improve on or things that I can expect. Most of the stuff I try to do on my own. But if it's something small, I go to him."
Joe Ross said he was able to check in on his brother's success with the Padres last season, even if it meant doing so around his own schedule.
"While we were playing, I would check before and after our games, depending on where they were playing. It was good to see him do so well, especially late, the last dozen or so starts where he was dominant," Joe Ross said.
"I tried to pick his brain as to what was clicking, and it was his mental aggressiveness and consistency. Hopefully he can continue it into this season."
Ross is a combined 5-12 with a 3.89 ERA in his young professional career, including a 5-8 mark with a 3.75 ERA in 2013 with Class A Fort Wayne. He'll likely be a part of a dynamic rotation in Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore with Max Fried and Zach Eflin.
"Hopefully I can put it all together this year," Joe Ross said.
Versatile Gonzalez back with Padres, hoping to stick
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Because he can play a premium position, shortstop, Alberto Gonzalez was faced with multiple potential landing spots this offseason, as several teams expressed an interest in signing him to a Minor League deal.
When the Padres showed interest, Gonzalez jumped at the chance to return to the team that employed him during the 2011 season, when he hit .215 and had a career-best 32 RBIs.
"I'm happy here, a lot of the players are still here. They're friends and it's a good staff and a very good manager," Gonzalez said on Tuesday.
Gonzalez played in more than 20 games each at shortstop, second base and third base in 2011. And even though his average in 247 at-bats wasn't much to look at, he did hit .278 with runners in scoring position and .311 with RISP and two outs.
Gonzalez was acquired at the end of Spring Training in 2011 by then-general manager Jed Hoyer in order to bolster the infield depth. The move allowed the Padres the chance to send Everth Cabrera to Triple-A to get more at-bats after he struggled badly in 2010.
This offseason, the Padres signed Gonzalez on a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training. He will get a chance to make the team as an extra infielder, but there will be plenty of competition in camp.
Coming back was the easy part. Now he's got to find a way to stay.
"They know me, so this is better for me that a lot of people here know me," he said.