Balsley has tough task sorting rebuilt bullpen

16 of 31 pitchers in camp are new additions to Padres

Balsley has tough task sorting rebuilt bullpen

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If you think the Padres and longtime pitching coach Darren Balsley are facing a tall order this spring trying to figure out who will comprise the team's bullpen, well, you're right.

Of the 31 pitchers who will be in camp, 16 of them are new to the organization.

But this is certainly nothing Balsley, the team's pitching coach since 2003, hasn't experienced before.

"Even though there's a lot of turnover this year, this isn't the first time that this has happened to us," Balsley said.

Balsley then cited spring 2009 when Luke Gregerson, who came over from the Cardinals in the Khalil Greene trade as the player to be named, did not arrive in Arizona until 12 days before Opening Day.

Another reliever, Edward Mujica, was acquired from the Indians on April 1 -- five days before Opening Day. Both went on to play important roles in a bullpen that finished sixth in the Majors in team ERA.

So certainly trying to figure out who will be a part of the bullpen -- and having six weeks to do so -- shouldn't be that difficult, right?

Balsley spent the winter watching video of some of the new pitchers in camp. He also got a chance to see a few with his own eyes last month when the team held its prospect minicamp at Petco Park.

"You're evaluating the physical talent, but also his personality traits and baseball IQ. A lot of time that's a huge part of being a good reliever," Balsley said.

For now, it's mostly watching the new guys, seeing what they have, watching the mechanics before he begins to tinker and teach.

"It's more evaluating with your eyes and getting to know the guys right now. The talent we have is going to be good. They're all close-to-big league pitchers or big league pitchers," Balsley said.

"The new guys coming here … a lot of time those guys just need a chance. The Padres have been good at giving guys chances, and having them excel at what they're going to do."

Balsley was actually one of the first people manager Andy Green reached out to after he was hired in late October. One of Green's tasks was making sure Balsley didn't go anywhere else.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Darren, and when you talk to people in the game about who the best pitching coaches are, Darren's name always gets mentioned," Green said.

"My first order of business was spending time with him and getting to know him. As soon as I did, I realized the person and personality was someone I needed to have here."

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