Pomeranz making case for rotation spot

Pomeranz making case for rotation spot

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With four impressive innings against the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, Drew Pomeranz ensured that his first start as a member of the Padres would not be his last.

The 27-year-old left-hander, who came to San Diego in the trade that sent Yonder Alonso to Oakland, allowed just one hit -- an Avisail Garcia homer -- and struck out four in the Padres' 6-1 loss. He seamlessly added a few cutters and changeups to his usual fastball/curveball mix.

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At the start of camp, Pomeranz appeared destined for the bullpen. Now, he has a very real chance of winning one of the two rotation jobs that remain available.

"He's making a very strong [case] right now," said Padres manager Andy Green. "[Catcher] Austin Hedges came in in the middle of the game and was just raving about how the ball was moving -- how the fastball was jumping, how the cutter was cutting in on righties. You can see the shape of the curveball from the dugout, so you know that's got life to it. He can really spin the ball."

Pomeranz has allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in 11 innings this spring. Although he hadn't made a start until Wednesday, he had been building his arm up to do so.

Ultimately, the key to Pomeranz's rotation case probably rests with the success of his cutter and changeup -- pitches that are relatively new to his repertoire.

"I've had two pitches for so long," Pomeranz said. "So if I can have something else -- maybe changeup and cutter show up -- that would make a world of difference for me, especially the second time through the order, mixing it up."

Pomeranz would prefer to open the season in the rotation but says he's open to any role the club assigns him. If the Padres opt to use him in the bullpen, it would most likely be as a prominent reliever in key spots. He has posted a 2.14 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 63 career relief innings -- about two-thirds of which came last season with the A's.

And although a rotation spot is currently on the line, Pomeranz is not viewing his outings as "auditions."

"I'm just going out there trying to get better all-around as a pitcher -- help me wherever I am, starting or relieving," Pomeranz said. "That's all I'm focusing on."

Pomeranz will get at least one more chance to prove his mettle as a starter -- Monday against the Royals. Shortly thereafter, Green will likely make a decision on his fourth and fifth starters. Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin are also in the mix, and Brandon Morrow's return from shoulder surgery is on the horizon.

Should Pomeranz win a starting job out of camp, his first outing would come in Colorado -- where he spent the first three seasons of his career and struggled mightily.

But Green was quick to note the progress Pomeranz has made since he left the Rockies following the 2013 season.

"There's a lot of guys that don't have success in that environment," Green said. "His stuff, the way it's playing right now, will be successful no matter where he pitches."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.