Quentin adjusting to speed of game at first base

Padres slugger has spent entire professional career playing in outfield

Quentin adjusting to speed of game at first base

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Carlos Quentin played six innings on defense at first base for the Padres on Saturday against the D-backs, the first time he's started at the position in a Cactus League game this spring.

The summation of his day, defensively?

"I didn't get any balls hit to me," he said.

But that didn't mean Quentin, who has only played outfield in a professional career that began in 2004, enjoyed a lazy day in the sun. If anything, he was busier than ever.

To be sure, one of the challenges of learning a new position this spring for Quentin is keeping up with the different pace of playing in the infield versus the outfield.

"The game is very fast in the infield, obviously. The game speeds up, and it's a little bit more mentally draining," he said. "Every pitch you have a chance to touch the ball; it's a higher percentage than the outfield.

"You have to focus immediately on the field, which I appreciate. In the outfield, you're able to focus on the game, but there's so much time in between at-bats, things can pop up in your head. Here there's no chance of that, which is nice. The game does go by fast as far as timing. [In the] infield, you look up and it's the seventh inning and, 'That went by real quick.'"

Quentin approached manager Bud Black in January about the idea of playing first base. The Padres had added three new outfielders during the winter and Quentin, in the final year of his contract, could get at-bats at first base if he takes to the position. It could also make him more attractive to other teams.

So far, Black has liked what he's seen -- both in Quentin's play and his approach to learning a new position after playing 1,243 professional games anywhere but first base.

"Here's a guy who has never played first base before and he's doing it at the highest level … that's not easy. He's acclimated himself very quickly," Black said. "He's feeling more comfortable, getting a lot of reps in practice.

"Again, we will see how this all plays out. He's embraced it. He's enjoying the process. He knows he's not a finished product by any means."

Quentin previously played defense for one inning on March 10, and he then later played the position in a "B" game. But his appearance in Saturday's loss to the D-backs was his first extended time at the position.

"I'm still enjoying myself, I'm still learning," Quentin said. "Yesterday was a really good experience. I look forward to being tested some more when I get a chance to be out there again."

So far this spring, Quentin has started six games as the designated hitter, twice in left field and now the one time at first base. He took a .280 average with one home run and four RBIs in 25 at-bats into Sunday's game against the Cubs.

Quentin said that he's received plenty of instruction and support, mostly from third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who works with the team's infielders. His teammates have helped, too.

"Yonder Alonso's very good at that, so I pay attention to what he does. Brett Wallace has talked to me, Jake Goebbert's talked to me. All of them have been really open with me in learning footwork, how to try to pick balls," he said. "A lot is repetition and practice."

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.