Final rotation spot still up for grabs between Morrow, Despaigne

Neither starter impressive in latest spring outings

Final rotation spot still up for grabs between Morrow, Despaigne

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For two weeks, the two leading candidates for the fifth spot in the Padres' rotation took turns matching each other, good outing for good outing.

It's probably only fitting then that on Saturday neither fared especially well in a 7-5 loss to the D-backs at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Brandon Morrow, who entered the game having allowed one run all spring, yielded five earned runs on eight hits with one walk and one strikeout in 3 2/3 innings.

Odrisamer Despaigne allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits with two walks, one strikeout and one throwing error in 3 1/3 innings in a 7-5 loss to Arizona.

Afterwards, manager Bud Black declared the final spot in the rotation was still up for grabs, with no final decision likely coming anytime soon.

"[It's] still close. They're both very good pitchers. We'll continue to evaluate and watch them. But those guys are competing hard," Black said. "It's probably a better question to answer late in March. They're doing great. It's a good competition."

Morrow looked like he had Ender Inciarte struck out looking to start the game but the pitch was called a ball. Inciarte then doubled. It was that kind of day for Morrow, who was hurt by pitches up in the strike zone.

"There were some ones [pitches] thigh-high and belt-high that they hit, and they fouled off some good pitches and got themselves in some decent counts," Morrow said. "I was ahead of a lot of guys too, but they fouled off the good ones and put the balls in play, put the barrels on the thigh-high and belt-high ones."

Black wasn't concerned about Morrow's rough outing.

"I thought his overall stuff is what you're looking for," Black said of Morrow, who threw 59 pitches, 40 for strikes. "You look for velocity, sharpness of pitches, secondary [pitches]. His stuff was fine. There were some positives out of Brandon today."

Morrow's ERA went from 1.00 to 4.26.

"I felt great today. Arm health has been good. Everything's been progressing well," Morrow said

Despaigne threw 54 pitches, 30 for strikes and also had a fielding error when he couldn't corral a ball out in front of the mound. His ERA now stands at 2.25.

"Despaigne got to a pitch-count, showed the assortment of his pitches, they nicked him for a couple of runs but again, what you're looking for, we saw some things that were positive," Black said.

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.