Four players in mix for two slots on roster
Brach and Owings going for last pitching opening
PEORIA, Ariz. -- A thought crossed outfielder Will Venable's mind last week as he pulled on his uniform for another Cactus League game.
"I was looking around and we have got 40-something guys in camp and you really get the sense that all of them deserve to be here," Venable said. "But it's like, who do [you] get rid of?
"These have got to be tough decisions for the coaches and really tough for anyone who doesn't make the cut."
As the Padres head into their final two days in Arizona -- with two exhibition games next week against the Royals -- there appear to be four players going for two jobs on the position-player side.
The competition in camp for the backup infield job has been between Everth Cabrera and Andy Parrino ever since Logan Forsythe fell out of the mix with a broken bone in his left foot early in camp.
Because the Padres have placed a great emphasis on having that player be able to handle shortstop, Cabrera might well get the nod. He has played 165 games at the position in the Major Leagues. Cabrera's hitting .228 entering Saturday's game against the Brewers and Mariners.
Parrino, who can play anywhere in the infield and the outfield as well, is hitting .217 with four home runs and eight RBIs. But, again, offense won't drive the decision on what player the team will keep.
"They're doing well, which is great for us. It's a good battle. I like the way both have stepped up their game the last 10 days," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Bench players have to try and be as mistake-free as possible."
With outfielder Carlos Quentin set to begin the season on the disabled list, the Padres will likely look at Kyle Blanks or James Darnell to fill a spot on the bench until Quentin's return in late April.
Blanks, who missed a week of games because of an impingement in his left shoulder, has four hits in his last five at-bats since returning. He can play first base and the outfield, and is hitting .310 so far this spring.
Darnell, who in addition to playing third base can play left field, is hitting .286 in 56 at-bats. He's trying his best to ignore the pressure of trying to make the team.
"I handle it as if I'm trying to take care of business every day. They have last year to look at, they have what you did in Spring Training to look at," Darnell said. "At the same time, I've always looked at it as going out and doing the best that you can.
"There are a lot of good players in there [the clubhouse] who deserve to be in the big leagues."
On the pitching side, right-handed reliever Brad Brach has made a strong case this spring. Brach goes into Saturday's game with a 0.93 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. The team is also considering right-hander Micah Owings, who has a 7.50 ERA, though he's been scored upon in just three of eight appearances.
"I think that question has gone through my mind a lot," Brach said when asked if he has pondered his standing with the team. "It would be awesome to break with the team but I try not to think about it. At the same time, I feel like I've put myself in a good position where I've done the best I could. If I go to Tucson, I'll pitch well down there and get back up here."
The Padres reassigned catcher Brad Davis and right-handed pitcher Dale Thayer to Minor League camp on Saturday. The Padres now have 35 players in big league camp.
Black has said the team might not break camp after Sunday's game with the 25 players it will open the regular season with on April 5. The Padres have exhibition games to play on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Royals in San Diego and at their Class A affiliate in Lake Elsinore.