3/1/2014 8:18 P.M. ET
Medica adjusting to first base, but misses catching
By Tyler Emmerich / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Once considered a top catching prospect at Santa Clara University, Padres first baseman Tommy Medica had his gear taken away from him when he suffered a devastating arm/shoulder injury, while still in college, that severely affected his arm strength and forced him to switch positions in pro ball.
But, even though he's no longer a backstop, the 25-year-old slugger still views the game as one, always analyzing his surroundings and taking a cerebral approach to his work.
"As a catcher, you're in control of pretty much everything that goes on, so you end up learning a lot about the game," Medica said. "You can definitely carry over some of those skills, which is good. At first base, I'm not as involved as I used to be, but I still direct traffic on some plays and I think I have a useful pair of eyes out there."
Medica admits he misses catching at times, but with his arm still somewhat restricted, he understands the rigors that come with the gig make it a wise decision for him to play elsewhere.
"I know what the catchers, especially in the Minor Leagues, go through," Medica said. "It's one of the toughest jobs, because you're starting five or six games a week and then, on your day off, you catch bullpens. So I miss the game part, but I have developed a new respect for what the job entails."
The Padres got their first look at what Medica can do last September when he appeared in 19 games for the club, batting .290 in 69 at-bats and launching three homers, including one off Cliff Lee in his second Major League at-bat. This spring marks his first big league camp and he's hoping to snag one of the final spots on the Padres' Opening Day roster.
Hahn showing off hoops skills at camp
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Outside of the Padres' clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex sits a portable basketball hoop on a slab of concrete, roughly the size of an average driveway. The hoop was just installed this week, so the makeshift court hasn't seen too much action yet, but count newly acquired pitcher Jesse Hahn as one of the Padres capable of putting on a show with the rock.
A standout, two-sport high school athlete in Connecticut growing up, Hahn received interest from several Division I schools to play basketball in college.
"I was good in high school but I had to give it up because playing baseball seemed like a better future for me," Hahn said. "I had a couple Atlantic-10 schools send me letters, but I was pretty much committed to baseball. I had a chance to meet some of the coaches and it definitely would've been fun to play longer, but I knew baseball was where I belonged."
Hahn, whom the Padres acquired in a seven-player deal with the Rays in January, ended up spending the next three years at Virginia Tech on the diamond before Tampa Bay drafted him in the sixth round in 2010.
Still, although the 24-year-old doesn't play basketball competitively anymore, for fear of injury, he returns to Connecticut every offseason to help coach at a local junior college, Avery Point.
"To this day I go back home and work with some of their kids," he said. "I love being around that team and helping them out. As much as I can be around the game, I still am."
When he does get the chance to shoot around a bit this spring, Hahn will have some competition for bragging rights among the Padres, as outfielder Will Venable played collegiately at Princeton and infielder Jedd Gyorko was first team all-state in high school.
"I might surprise some people," Hahn said, smiling. "But I've heard there are some guys on this team who can play. We'll see."
As for the sport he now makes a living from, Hahn is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Sunday against the Dodgers. The right-hander is expected to begin the season at Double-A San Antonio, but with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s coupled with a solid curve and an improving slider and changeup, Hahn appears poised to progress quickly through the Padres' farm system as a future middle of the rotation starter.
"We have seen a very live arm from him just in the sessions that he has thrown," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's shown a little bit of velocity and he can spin a breaking ball. The delivery and the arm action works well, so it's so far, so good for Jesse."
Kennedy pleased with fastball in first outing
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ian Kennedy may have gotten a little wet Saturday, but raindrops were the only things to hit him hard in his first Cactus League outing of the spring.
Tossing two clean innings against the Royals, Kennedy allowed one hit, walked one and struck out two batters, including Billy Butler looking on a slider. He finished throwing 26 pitches, 20 for strikes.
"I felt pretty good, threw a lot of strikes; that's what you look for in Spring Training," Kennedy said. "The most important thing was getting that fastball going, especially your first time out. So that was nice."
Kennedy and the Padres got through the first inning dry, but a drizzle started up in the second frame just as the right-hander took the mound.
"I was warming up and I was like, 'We better get this thing started,'" Kennedy said. "I can turn it off when they tell me if the game is canceled or something like that, but it's hard to turn it off then turn it back on."
The rain stayed light enough for Kennedy to finish his start, but not long after that the showers picked up again and umpires called the game in the top of the eighth. Kennedy said the rain didn't affect him, though, adding that he still threw, "a couple changeups, one curveball and three sliders."
Acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last season, Kennedy is expected to fit anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 in the rotation following camp.
"Ian looked really good, mechanics solid, arm speed," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I thought he looked sharp, he threw a lot of good pitches over his two innings. Everything was crisp for a first outing."
Maybin enjoys feeling of blasting homer again
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Before Saturday, it had been nine months since Cameron Maybin last homered in a game. But with one smooth swing of the bat, the outfielder who only played 14 games last year, due to knee and wrist injuries, changed that in a hurry.
Picking on an 85-mph splitter over the plate from the Royals' Brad Penny, Maybin launched a no-doubter well into the left-field grass area for a two-run shot Saturday in the Padres' 7-3 rain-shortened loss.
"Man, it felt good," Maybin said. "I know it's only two games in but it felt really good to kind of click one. Just to kind of get that reassurance that the body feels well. You always gain confidence when you're able to put together a good at-bat."
Upon returning to the dugout, Maybin's teammates swarmed him.
"That was cool, everybody was excited for me," Maybin said. "I think that made it a little bit more special even though it's Spring Training. It was nice to get those high-fives, slap everybody's hands. It was a long year last year for me not playing, so it's a nice feeling to be a part of a team again."
Padres starter Ian Kennedy added: "I joked and said, 'He's back.' That was a great swing, though. That was like the Cameron Maybin that I've seen hit some far balls against the D-backs, when I was with them."
Although the homer only came in a Spring Training contest, the Padres believe Maybin experiencing tangible success again will help the 26-year-old get back to his old self, following such a frustrating year in 2013.
"With Cam, he's got to get back into the flow, so when you do something positive like he did and really square up the ball, drive a deep homer, that builds a lot of confidence," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's building that foundation right now. He's got to get back in his groove so hopefully there is more of that to come."
• Due to rain showers soaking the fields at the Peoria Sports Complex, the Padres carried out all of their morning work Saturday indoors in the cages and bullpen.
"The conditions aren't right to go out there," manager Bud Black said. "It's a little slippery, a little muddy so it's a good day to get the guys off their feet."
• Chase Headley (strained right calf) continued his rehab in the weight and training rooms Saturday, but improvement with the nagging injury appears to be slow moving.
"He's progressing every day," Black said. "But I still think he's a ways away from really any productive swinging in the cage."
• Josh Johnson will make his Padres debut Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., against the Giants. He is expected to work two innings.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.