5/15/2014 10:55 P.M. ET
Benoit off to strong start after switching roles, leagues
By Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Joaquin Benoit has performed as advertised in his first six weeks as a member of the Padres, posting a 2.41 ERA (five earned runs in 18 2/3 innings) and a 0.86 WHIP in 18 appearances going into Thursday's doubleheader with the Reds.
The 2014 season has been one of change for the 36-year-old right-hander, who went from setup man to closer for the Tigers last season before reverting to a setup man for Huston Street after signing with the Padres. And that's not to mention pitching in the National League for the first time in his career.
"It's not really an adjustment," Benoit said. "I was just a closer filling up somebody's space [in Detroit]. I feel good, but my mind is set up the same way; getting three outs in the eighth isn't different from getting three outs in the ninth."
Benoit said that though there isn't necessarily an adjustment in mindset, the main difference between the setup role and closing is often the part of the lineup you're facing, which makes things interesting in the eighth vs. the ninth inning.
"I think it's really exciting [in the eighth inning]," Benoit said. "Most of the time, you face the heart of the lineup and have to concentrate better and know who you're facing. Most of the time in the ninth, I think you get the third part of the lineup. Not taking anything away from [closers], but it's a little bit of a different approach."
Now that he's pitching for an NL club for the first time, Benoit said one difference he's noticed is that NL hitters swing more than American League hitters, creating both advantages and disadvantages for him after he pitched in the AL during his first 12 big league seasons.
"I think in the National League, they swing more than in the American League," Benoit said. "That's probably the only difference, but there's a lot of good hitters on this side, too. It's my first experience being in the National League, but I approach every game the same way, trying to get a first-pitch strike and go from there.
"[The higher NL swing rate] could be to my advantage, I think, because since my main concern is to throw first-pitch strikes, they're gonna swing on the first pitch. I think I can use that to my advantage or it could hurt me sometimes, but you just see which way the luck is. That's it."
But the early aggressiveness of NL hitters he's experienced isn't going to change Benoit's approach when it comes to a fresh count.
"No, no, no," Benoit said when asked whether he's considered changing how he attacks hitters at the beginning of an at-bat.
Quackenbush optioned following DH nightcap
CINCINNATI -- Following the Padres' 6-1 victory over the Reds in the nightcap of their split doubleheader on Thursday, the club optioned right-handed reliever Kevin Quackenbush to Triple-A El Paso.
Quackenbush, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the win, was added as the 26th man on the Padres' roster for the second game of the twin bill. By rule, teams are allowed to add a 26th man to the roster for the second game of a doubleheader, as long as that player is on the 40-man roster.
Quackenbush was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday to make room for right-handed reliever Dale Thayer, who returned to the club after being on paternity leave for the birth of his daughter on Monday.
In three appearances for San Diego this season, Quackenbush has allowed two runs on two hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out four.
Padres have long day before Colorado series
CINCINNATI -- The Padres played in their second doubleheader of the season on Thursday against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. The first was a twin bill against the Indians in Cleveland on April 9, in which they split the two games.
Outfielder Will Venable has been in doubleheaders before, but not quite like the one he was part of Thursday, where San Diego would have to jump on a plane and head to Colorado to open a weekend set against the Rockies after concluding a long day in Cincinnati.
"As far as a split doubleheader like this on a travel day, I'm not sure that I've had that before," Venable said. "I've had a doubleheader, but not one like this where we have time in between [the first game was scheduled for 12:35 p.m. ET and the second for 6:10 p.m. ET]. So I don't know how it's all gonna play out, but it's gonna be a late night."
Left-hander Robbie Erlin, who is scheduled to start Saturday's game at Coors Field, said that though he didn't know how the games would play out Thursday or whether the bullpen would be used much, he knew it would be important for starters to eat up innings to rest a potentially weary relief corps.
"We'll see how the games go today," Erlin said on Thursday. "But the next couple days, hopefully starters can go deep into the games and give the bullpen a little bit of a break, and we'll do our best to fulfill that."
Setup man Joaquin Benoit said that on days like Thursday, it's important for relievers to conserve energy and not put unnecessary work in.
"Just make every pitch count," Benoit said. "You've got a doubleheader, there's nothing we can do about it, so you just approach the game and try to take advantage of every opportunity to make each pitch count and keep yourself as healthy as you can."
• Thursday's doubleheader was the second of the 2014 season for the Padres (April 9 at Cleveland) and the eighth since '00 (two at home, six on the road). San Diego has split the last five doubleheaders it has played going back to '05. The last time the Padres took both games of a twin bill was on May 19, 2004 in Pittsburgh.
The last time the Padres played two doubleheaders in the same season was in 1999, when they lost both games in Colorado on July 3 and in St. Louis on Sept. 29.
• Going into Thursday's doubleheader, two Padres players ranked in the top three in the Majors in hitting with two strikes (minimum of 50 at-bats). Seth Smith ranked second with a .346 average (18-for-52), and teammate Chris Denorfia was right behind him, ranked third with a .339 clip (21-for-62).
The Major League average in a two-strike count going into Thursday's action was .175.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.