Barmes ready to fill any need for Padres

Former starting shortstop will take on a utility and mentoring role in San Diego

Barmes ready to fill any need for Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Clint Barmes turned 36 on Friday, and Padres manager Bud Black presented him with the best gift possible on an unusually warm afternoon at the Peoria Sports Complex:

A pinch-runner.

Black lifted Barmes in the fifth inning after the veteran infielder dropped a soft single into right field. The pinch-runner, Abraham Almonte, then had to hustle to score from first base when Tim Federowicz lined a double to center field.

Reminded later it could have been him racing around the bases, working up a big sweat, Barmes smiled and said: "I would have scored easily on that."

If there's been one constant in camp thus far, it's Barmes' smile, the one he has worn since reporting to Peoria more than two weeks ago with the rest of the position players.

Barmes, who is preparing for his 13th season in the big leagues, bubbles with the same youthful exuberance as someone 10 years his junior, as if this was his first big league camp. He was one of general manager A.J. Preller's first acquisitions, and Barmes was told some big things were going to happen.

Little did he know that Preller was about to remake the roster with the hopes of turning the Padres from an also-ran in the National League West into a postseason contender. Hearing this, without knowing what was coming -- Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, et al -- Barmes jumped at the opportunity to sign a one-year deal.

"I want to win a championship," he said. "But I also still want to play. I don't want to just collect a paycheck. I want to be on a winning team and I want to contribute. That's my mindset every season. I want to do whatever it takes to help my team be better."

The truth is the Padres will ask Barmes to do a lot for his new team. He'll bounce around the infield, playing some shortstop, third base, second base and maybe even little first base. He could pinch-hit on occasion as well.

Barmes' versatility sets up well for an NL bench player, Black said.

"He's a Major League shortstop, but you feel comfortable with him [anywhere] on defense," Black said. "He's a veteran player who knows how to get a bunt down. And against us, with the Rockies, with the Pirates, he was a pesky player. I've seen him good.

"We'll use him in a lot of different ways."

If nothing else, the Padres were able to keep Barmes -- a .301 hitter against the Padres in 346 career at-bats, .240 against the other 29 teams -- from joining another team.

There's another role Barmes will play -- mentor to first-year starting shortstop Alexi Amarista, who did a nice job in a six-week stint last season while filling in for Everth Cabrera. Barmes welcomes the chance to help Amarista with the rigors of the position and with handling what it takes mentally to hold down the job.

It's payback, in a sense, for Barmes, who benefitted from veterans helping him when he was a young player with the Rockies, guys like Todd Helton, Mark Sweeney, Todd Greene, Preston Wilson, Desi Relaford and Royce Clayton.

"When I signed over here, I was looking forward to passing on what I can pass on," Barmes said. "I did that the last few years [with the Pirates] with Jordy Mercer. The big challenge for me is [Amarista is] Latin, so it's [a] communication [issue].

"But he's a great kid and he's going to be fun to work with."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.