02/27/07 6:21 PM ET
Notes: Relievers fighting for spots
Black suggests he may keep 12 pitchers after Spring Training
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
"I might lean toward 12," Black said, noting that the number could certainly change before the team breaks camp late next month. That much is certain.
What isn't quite as easy to figure out is which 12 pitchers will be with the team when it opens the season on April 3 in San Francisco.
Several spots, of course, are already spoken for, such as the entire starting rotation -- Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux, Chris Young, David Wells and Clay Hensley. And then there's the guy at the back end of the bullpen, all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman.
Scott Linebrink, Cla Meredith, Doug Brocail and Scott Strickland will make the team, with Royce Ring, Scott Cassidy and Heath Bell factoring in the bullpen mix as well.
Then there are such pitchers as Justin Hampson, Kevin Cameron, Mike Adams, Andrew Brown, Aaron Rakers, Leo Rosales and Mike Thompson, all of whom might be considered for a spot in the bullpen should they impress this spring.
"You look at the names up there, there's names of a lot of guys who have pitched in the big leagues," Black said. "They all expect to make the team. They all feel as though they should make the team. That's a good thing."
Black will get his first look at some of the bullpen hopefuls in Wednesday's intrasquad game, though the best test will come once Cactus League play begins on Friday, a day after the Padres' annual charity game against the Seattle Mariners.
"It might be a little tough at the end," said Black, speculating that there might be some hard roster decisions to make a month from now. "But when it's all said and done, when we leave here, we're going to have a pretty nice bullpen."
A different view: As Black navigates his first Spring Training with the Padres, he continues to look for ways to familiarize himself with his players and their strengths.
Black, a former Major League pitcher, has taken to throwing batting practice to hitters, many of whom he's never actually seen in a game. And though this is just batting practice, he said that throwing BP -- as he did on Monday to Brian Giles, Terrmel Sledge, Paul McAnulty and Adrian Gonzalez -- certainly can't hurt.
"It's rounding into shape," he said of his arm strength. "My arm feels good. It goes back to interacting with the guys. You get to work on a few things."
As for his pitchers, Black said that he's entrusted them to pitching coach Darren Balsley and bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds.
"Because I'm so confident in Darren and Darrel in their work with the pitchers and what they've done the last number of years, I have no concerns there," he said. "I wanted to get to know Khalil [Greene], [Mike] Cameron, the brothers Giles, Jose Cruz Jr."
Linebrink tweaks back: First it was Geoff Blum who tweaked his back, now it appears as though Linebrink did the same on Tuesday while warming up before the morning workout.
"He might have tweaked his back, but it's nothing serious," Black said. "I think he did it just warming up, going through the early conditioning."
As for Blum, he's been participating in "more activity each and every day," according to Black. "He's getting close to full activity."
Blum, who hurt his back a week ago, is being brought along slowly, and could be ready to hit the field by the time the Padres officially begin Cactus League play on Friday against Seattle.
Padres log: A representative from B.A.T. (Baseball Assistance Team) stopped by the clubhouse on Tuesday morning to talk with players about their efforts to raise funds to assist members of the baseball family who are in financial need. A year ago, more than 700 Major League players, managers, coaches and Minor Leaguers donated more than $1.1 million to the program. The Padres were "up on the list" of teams that donated the most. "I'm proud of our guys," Black said. ... The Padres didn't waste much time hanging out in the clubhouse following Tuesday's workout, as several players and coaches headed to the Raven Golf Club at Verrado in nearby Buckeye for an outing that included the Mariners. ... The six-inning intrasquad game will start at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday on the main practice field.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.