SAN DIEGO -- It's not surprising at all to see Padres outfielder Jesus Guzman having a big second half at the plate, though it's in a much different role than he was in last season.
Guzman had a three-run home run in the third inning of the Padres' 4-3 victory over the Rockies, a hit that allowed his second-half batting average to climb to .297. Overall, Guzman is hitting .255 in 2012. Last season, Guzman, who was recalled from Triple-A Tucson in June, hit a blistering .320 in the second half.
This season, Guzman has more at-bats (255 to 247), though he's played less, getting most of his starts against left-handed pitching.
According to manager Bud Black, Guzman has handled this role well.
"I think Guzzie is so adaptable and flexible on a daily basis, that whether he's playing a lot or not playing, Guzzie makes the most of it," Black said. "When he doesn't start a number of games regularly, he still is able to adapt and perform. I've got confidence in him."
Guzman knows that he could be called upon at any point and any position. He's appeared in 19 games at first base this season, three at second base and 48 games in the outfield. He also has 10 pinch-hits, including two home runs.
"I've got to be ready for every situation, no matter what," Guzman said. "And I know that even if I'm not playing for a while, I've still got to work hard every day. I've been watching a lot of video with Phil [the Padres hitting coach, Phil Plantier] and we talk a lot during games. That's helped me a lot."
Cashner records unusual first MLB hit
SAN DIEGO -- Hitless in the first nine at-bats of his career, including six this season, Andrew Cashner had a bright idea on Friday against the Rockies:
Less, apparently, is more.
Instead of swinging hard and hoping for the best, the 6-foot-6 Cashner dropped down a push bunt that snuck past Rockies pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who had trouble getting a grip on the ball. He threw late to first base and Cashner was awarded his first hit -- a bunt single.
"I was actually trying to go down the third base line since he was playing back," Cashner said. "All I was trying to do was get the monkey off my back."
Cashner was hitless in two at-bats with the Cubs in 2010 and then had just one at-bat for them during a season cut short by injury in 2011. Going into Friday's start, he was 0-for-6 with a walk.
Now, Cashner has a batting average (.143), although as he was running to first base, he wasn't entirely sure he was going to make it in time.
"I felt like I was running in quicksand," he said, smiling.
Cast removed, Marquis tosses simulated game
SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Jason Marquis, on the disabled list since Aug. 23 with a fractured bone in his non-throwing (left) hand, is no longer wearing a cast and threw a simulated game before the Padres faced the Rockies on Saturday.
Marquis did need a coach to return the catcher's throws, and his chances of returning before the end of the season remain slim. Marquis went 6-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 15 starts for San Diego, which signed him as a free agent in May.
"He wants to keep throwing, which is great," Black said. "He wants to keep his body going through September. He feels good but still needs to get clearance on catching a baseball."
And with only 15 games remaining after Sunday, it's a long shot that Marquis will appear in games this season, though Black wasn't willing to close that door.
Marquis will be a free agent after this season and the Padres will likely add one or two pitchers in the off-season. That should prevent them from getting in the bind they were in this season, when they went through 15 different starting pitchers due to a slew of injuries.
Outfielder Carlos Quentin (sore right knee) has made progress but was not in the lineup on Sunday.
"He is feeling better but is not quite there yet," said Padres manager Bud Black. "The knee isn't allowing him to play in a full game."
Black said most of the soreness for Quentin comes when he's in his hitting stance with weight on his surgically repaired right knee. It also bothers him when he stops and starts while playing in the outfield.