Padres pleased with Quackenbush's growth

After shuttling between Minors and Majors last season, righty ready to prove himself

Padres pleased with Quackenbush's growth

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The first go-around in the big leagues last season for Padres pitcher Kevin Quackenbush proved to be the kind of whirlwind endeavor that you might expect a rookie to experience his first time on the big stage.

And we're not exclusively talking about the adjustment from getting Minor League hitters out to trying to do the same in the big leagues.

In a dizzying 23-day stretch that canvassed April and May, Quackenbush, a reliever, was recalled from Triple-A El Paso on five occasions. Sure, players get shuttled back and forth between the big leagues and the Minor Leagues all the time, but this bordered on the ridiculous.

Think of that: five round-trips in 23 days.

"It was a dream come true last year, and it was a learning process as well," Quackenbush said. "And it was also a learning process, going up and down as much as I did. It was strenuous … like, 'What am I doing?' But once I got settled in, it was a lot of fun."

Quackenbush, a closer in the Minor Leagues with 68 saves over parts of four seasons, had a 2.48 ERA in 56 appearances for the Padres, many in high-leverage situations. He even got a chance to close, earning six saves late in the season while closer Joaquin Benoit nursed a sore right shoulder.

"It was great they showed confidence in me to put me in late in games," Quackenbush said.

There were a few rough patches along the way, expected for a rookie still finding his way, but generally, manager Bud Black was happy with the way Quackenbush, 26, pitched.

"Quack grew into a nice role for us and was an integral part of our bullpen," Black said.

For as well as Quackenbush performed last season, he won't simply be handed a job this spring. The Padres added two power right-handers who peg at the back end of the bullpen -- Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer -- to set up Benoit.

Not only does Quackenbush understand this, he welcomes it.

"I think every spring from here on out, you have something to prove … whether you have new guys or not," he said. "I'm glad they're here. I hope they can help out."

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.