4/2/2014 8:54 P.M. ET
Padres' affiliates ready to open seasons
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' top four Minor League affiliates get their seasons underway on Thursday.
Triple-A El Paso begins the Pacific Coast League season on the road against Reno. The starting rotation for the Chihuahuas is Juan Oramas, Keyvius Sampson, Jason Lane, Burch Smith and Brandon Kloess.
Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League is on the road in Springfield, Mo. The Missions will use a six-man rotation, with Matt Wisler and Jesse Hahn piggybacking each other followed by Josh Geer, Devin Jones, Justin Hancock and James Needy.
Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore of the California League opens the season Thursday in Lancaster. The starting rotation will be Joe Ross, Zach Eflin, Colin Rea, Ruben Mejia and Bryan Rodriguez.
Class A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League is the only Padres' affiliate to open at home. The TinCaps will face Great Lakes. The TinCaps will also use a six-man rotation with Walker Weickel, Payton Baskette, Pete Kelich, Yimmi Brasoban, Walker Lockett and Adrian DeHorta.
Smith treating Petco Park like a bandbox
SAN DIEGO -- Outfielder Seth Smith has made Petco Park look small in the first two games of the season, hitting a home run in each game against the Dodgers.
Small sample size aside, spacious Petco Park doesn't seem to haunt Smith at all -- at least not in the way that it has several other position players over the years.
"I think your experiences help you," Smith said. "For me, it's more about when you're in the batter's box and how you feel, the batter's eye and the pitchers. There's no need worrying about the fences and the dimensions or how the ball flies.
"If you hit it, it's going to go. If not, it won't."
Of course, Smith spent the last two seasons playing for the A's and in their spacious ballpark.
Smith played four seasons at Coors Field with the Rockies before joining the A's. One of the things that general manager Josh Byrnes liked about Smith before he traded for him in November was the fact he played in Oakland's pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum and wouldn't be put off by Petco Park's dimensions.
Padres linked to Cuban free agent Despaigne
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres are said to be closing in on a deal with 26-year-old Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne.
The Padres, who have scouted Despaigne and even hosted him and another Cuban player in a workout at their Spring Training facility in Arizona in February, have not confirmed the report, which was posted by MLBTradeRumors.com on Wednesday.
Despaigne would have to obtain a visa, a process that can take 3-4 weeks, and pass a physical before a deal could be officially announced.
Despaigne, who turns 27 this month, defected from Cuba during a tournament in Europe last summer, established residency in Spain and began working out in Mexico.
Despaigne is a right-handed pitcher who might peg best as a long reliever if he reaches the big leagues.
In February, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler vowed that the organization would be more active in the international market.
"We understand international is very important. We're taking a look at how we can improve in that area, it's important for us to be able to compete in that area," Fowler said.
Padres claim lefty LaFromboise from Mariners
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres claimed left-handed pitcher Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from the Mariners on Wednesday and optioned him to Triple-A El Paso.
LaFromboise, 27, appeared in 10 games for the Mariners last season, posting a 5.91 ERA. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Tacoma, going 6-0 with a 3.39 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 61 innings.
"All winter we tried to get some left-handed options, and it's an ongoing process," said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. "He's got a good track record against lefties. He's a good guy for inventory."
To make room for LaFromboise on the 40-man roster, the Padres transferred right-handed pitcher Joe Wieland from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list, retroactive to March 21.
Wieland had a clean-up procedure on his right elbow last month and is still several weeks away from being able to play catch. He recently started range-of-motion exercises.
• Outfielder Cameron Maybin, who ruptured his left biceps tendon making a diving catch on March 2, will take batting practice on the field at the team's Spring Training facility in Arizona this weekend, said Padres manager Bud Black. Chances are Maybin will face Casey Kelly, who is in extended spring training working his way back from April 2013 Tommy John surgery.