4/1/2014 7:25 P.M. ET
Padres hope Cabrera shakes off spring struggles
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Shortstop Everth Cabrera, who was suspended for the final 50 games of last season, got off to a slow start in Spring Training -- offensively and defensively.
Cabrera led the team with four errors and had contact issues at the top of the order, finishing the spring with 16 strikeouts in 61 at-bats.
"I attribute some of that to spring and maybe he was trying to hurry some things [defensively]," said San Diego manager Bud Black. "But overall, I think he had to get back on the field and play."
Cabrera was the team's lone All-Star representative last season, hitting .291 in the first half. But he did not play after Aug. 4 after he was suspended for the final 50 games of the regular season in relation to the Biogenesis investigation.
Black said it's imperative Cabrera play like he did in the first half of last season if the Padres are to be successful.
"He's got to get on base, the job of the leadoff hitter is to get on base and create havoc and put pressure on the other team," Black said.
Medica adjusting well to new role in outfield
SAN DIEGO -- Rookie Tommy Medica made the Padres 25-man Opening Day roster on the strength of his big spring, offensively.
However, Medica's ability to take to left field in Spring Training drills and later games certainly added to his versatility.
"He's done a nice job over the last three and a half weeks of getting up to speed as soon as possible in left field," said Padres manager Bud Black. "There's a little bit of left field in his past, but not a lot."
Medica got the start in left Sunday against the Dodgers and handled the two fly balls that were hit to him -- Juan Uribe in the fifth inning and Adrian Gonzalez in the sixth inning -- just fine before Chris Denorfia moved from right field to left field in the top of the ninth inning.
Medica, a former catcher who has primarily been a first baseman in the Minor Leagues, appeared in one game in the outfield last season for Double-A San Antonio. But he took well to outfield drills in Arizona and then played well enough during games to the point where the coaching staff was comfortable with him there.
"He's a guy who is athletic, he can run, his hands are fine. The things you worry about are the routes and the angles," Black said. "But he's fearless, not tentative, he's not scared off and he has no apprehension.
"I think he's looking at it as a great challenge. The component of switching positions is not that easy. We will see how it goes, but we want his bat in the lineup."
Medica hit .324 this spring, leading the team in hits (22) and at-bats (68). He also had three home runs and eight RBIs. Medica, who wasn't in the lineup on Tuesday, went 1-for-3 in the opener on Sunday.
Grandal a key asset in starting lineup and off bench
SAN DIEGO -- On Tuesday, Yasmani Grandal got the start behind the plate for the Padres, which was a good thing for him and, ultimately manager Bud Black hopes, a good thing for the Padres.
However, his mere presence in the starting lineup might have actually weakened the team's five-man bench just a little.
Grandal, after all, is a switch-hitter, which can force some uncomfortable managerial decisions across the way late in games in terms of choosing a reliever.
"His presence off the bench is real and the other team has to recognize it when they start to make some changes out of the bullpen," Black said.
"When you have switch-hitters, it's tough because you have to decide which side you want him from. It really swings to the team that has the switch-hitters that gives them a lot more comfort as far as making moves."
Grandal is the only switch-hitter on the bench and one of three switch-hitters -- in addition to shortstop Everth Cabrera and third baseman Chase Headley -- on the 25-man roster.
On Sunday, Rene Rivera got the start at catcher with Andrew Cashner on the mound. So with Grandal catching on Tuesday, chances are Nick Hundley will start in Wednesday's series finale against the Dodgers.
The Padres won't carry three catchers all season and might not for the entire month. But for now, this mix is working.
"That can help us," Black said.
At this point, the five-man bench consists of the two catchers who don't start, a fourth outfielder -- either Seth Smith or Chris Denorfia, generally -- and utility man Alexi Amarista.
• Pitcher Joe Wieland, who had minor surgery on his right elbow on March 25, has already started his range-of-motion exercises. Wieland, who said his goal is to pitch in a game in the first half of the season, said the surgery went well. During the procedure, Dr. Heinz Hoenecke removed scar tissue in the elbow, likely from his July 2012 Tommy John surgery. He could begin throwing again in a month.
• Seth Smith's pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning on Sunday made him the fourth Padres player since Aug. 12 of last season to hit a home run for his first hit with the Padres, joining Chris Robinson (Sept. 25, 2013), Medica (Sept. 11, 1013) and Jaff Decker (Aug. 12, 2013). Since the data began being tracked in 1974, Smith is the 40th player in franchise history to hit a home run as his first hit with the club and the first since Eddy Rodriguez on Aug. 12, 2012, to do so in his first plate appearance.