PEORIA, Ariz. -- If you have ever attended or watched a Spring Training game, you inevitably know what happens around the sixth or seventh inning -- the mass exodus of starting players, particularly those with the most Major League service time.
As they depart, a fresh group of younger players, some prospects, some roster-filler, take their places. They're easy to spot too. Uniform Nos. 70 and above with no names on the back are often a tell-tale sign.
But that might not be the case this spring when the Padres open Cactus League play against the Mariners on March 4, the beginning of their 30-game exhibition schedule.
Manager Bud Black hinted this week that the team could use players with more big league service time throughout games, presumably as a way to better evaluate players for what could be tough calls for the roster or even to showcase players.
"It could be where we take some at-bats away from some younger players, some prospect that plays in the back end of games. You might see more tenured players in the back end of games that you might not normally see," Black said.
"In years past, those games might be for [Minor Leaguers] Rico Noel or Hunter Renfroe or Rymer Liriano or Alex Dickerson. It could be a little different this year."
The Padres, with a glut of outfielders in camp, could give early at-bats to outfielders Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin with hopes they perform well and attract attention from other teams. The offseason additions of Wil Myers, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp have made for a logjam in the outfield.
The same could be said for players attempting to win a job on the bench, like infielder Cory Spangenberg and also trying to figure out who will start at third base, Will Middlebrooks or Yangervis Solarte.
Black didn't rule out the possibility of adding 'B' games, though none are currently scheduled, or having players get at-bats in Minor League games as well..
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.