4/21/2014 8:23 P.M. ET
Black sees 'room to improve' in holding runners
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- There is nothing to complain about so far in terms of pitching for the Padres, as the team took the fourth-best ERA (2.75) in the big leagues into Monday's game against the Brewers.
But there's one particular area in which the pitchers -- starters and relievers alike -- could improve, said Padres manager Bud Black: holding baserunners.
The Padres started their 10-game road trip as the only big league team without having caught a single baserunner stealing in 17 attempts.
Of course, some of this falls on the catching trio of Yasmani Grandal (0-for-6), Nick Hundley (0-for-5) and Rene Rivera (0-for-6), though it's also a function of pitchers not doing a good job of holding baserunners.
"There's always room to improve in that area, and I think our pitchers can do that," Black said. "But not at the expense of making pitches and making sure that your delivery is where it needs to [affect] the action on the pitches."
The Padres' pitchers currently have a strand rate of 73.1 percent, according to FanGraphs, which is 14th in the big leagues. The average in baseball typically runs at about 72 percent, so many of those stolen bases the Padres have allowed haven't necessarily come back to bite them.
In terms of holding baserunners and giving the catcher a better chance, Black said making wholesale changes is not the way to go.
"Sometimes, your stuff lessens [when you make changes], but we have to do a better job with some of the little things you can do, besides being quicker to the plate," Black said. "Like varying our hold times, mixing in a quick step at times. We don't have to be ultra-fast, but we have to get down to that 1.25- to 1.4-[second] range of as soon as the pitcher moves to when the ball hits the catcher's glove.
"But it's a fine line."
Maybin could return during current road trip
MILWAUKEE -- Outfielder Cameron Maybin, who ruptured his left biceps March 2, could be reinstated and added to the Padres' 25-man roster during this 10-game road trip.
"There is a chance he could join us on this trip," Padres manager Bud Black said.
On Saturday, Maybin played in his seventh Minor League rehabilitation game with Triple-A El Paso. He's hitting .192 with five strikeouts in 27 plate appearances. But, as Black said, his at-bats have been better recently, maybe not so much in terms of hits, but he's been getting solid contact.
Maybin has three hits in his last two games with the Chihuahuas.
"Cameron has played enough games to where he should be feeling comfortable, back playing regularly, should have confidence in his biceps, should have confidence in his swing and his play," Black said. "The last couple of days in Triple-A, he's shown that. That does lead me to believe he's getting closer to San Diego."
Maybin suffered his injury making a diving catch in a Spring Training game. After an MRI revealed the ruptured tendon, he and the team opted against surgery, which would have kept him out longer.
Maybin's rehabilitation stint with El Paso started on April 11 and he has 20 days -- not games -- to complete it. That would allow him to be eligible on May 1, though, obviously, he could be ready well before then.
When Maybin is ready to come off the disabled list, the Padres will need to make room for him on the 25-man roster, which could mean dropping the third catcher they're carrying or sending an outfielder to the Minor Leagues.
Padres send RHP Carter to Japanese league team
MILWAUKEE -- The Padres have sold the contract of Minor League right-handed pitcher Anthony Carter to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.
Terms were not disclosed.
Carter, 28, was one of the Padres' primary Minor League free-agent targets in the offseason after he posted a 3.47 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings with Boston's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket.
But Carter failed to impress in big league camp during Spring Training, allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits in five innings (six outings) before being reassigned to Minor League camp on March 15.
Carter appeared in three games for the Triple-A Chihuahuas, allowing two runs on five hits in three innings. He last appeared in a game on April 9.
"He had interest in going over to Japan prior to us signing him," said Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch. "They showed interest, and we matched it up against our depth and felt it would be mutually beneficial."
The Padres have had a working agreement with the Fighters since 2008, though they're free to deal with other Japanese teams; in January '13, they sold the contract of first baseman Matt Clark to the Chunichi Dragons.
• The Padres have signed 30-year-old right-handed pitcher Billy Buckner and sent him to extended spring camp in Arizona. Buckner wasn't with a big league team in Spring Training, but he kept his arm in shape working out with a junior college team in Georgia. Buckner has a 6.07 ERA in parts of five seasons in the big leagues with three teams: the Royals (2007), D-backs (2008-10) and Angels ('13).