Notes: Padilla a perfect role model

Notes: Padilla a perfect role model

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Vicente Padilla has a different hairdo this spring, opting for the frizzy perm rather than combing his locks straight back.

It's a minor adjustment in his overall demeanor. This is a guy who had a one-word answer when one of his teammates asked him if he played golf.

"No," he growled.

His best scowl is saved for media-types and opposing hitters. He is not fond of either group, although he did answer some questions through a translator on Monday morning in the Rangers clubhouse.

He wasn't particularly effusive with his answers, but it was the first time he has spoken since an in-depth interview with MLB.Com at the end of last season, and the first time since agreeing to a three-year, $33.75 million contract extension in the offseason.

Padilla has at least made it known that he likes pitching in Arlington.

"It's a city I feel comfortable in and they treated me well last year," Padilla said. "That's why I came back."

Padilla was 15-10 with a 4.50 ERA over 200 innings and 33 starts in his first year with the Rangers. He also led the American League with 17 hit batsmen and had to serve a five-game suspension for his role in the Aug. 15-16 skirmishes with the Angels.

But he doesn't seem particularly repentant about all of that and doesn't seem inclined to change his approach.

"I like to pitch inside," Padilla said. "That's my style. As long as the hitters don't back off, I'm going to keep pounding inside. If I do it any other way, I'm the one who is going to have a problem because they're going to be hitting me."

Manager Ron Washington has no intention of trying to change Padilla and sees much that he can impart to the Rangers' younger pitchers.

"I like his aggressiveness and the way he feels he's in control of the game and his demeanor," Washington said. "He brings that attitude that he's totally in control and he throws a lot of strikes. He has a really good toughness, just like Kevin Millwood. We have some good role models for our young pitchers. I wouldn't want to change the way he is."

Padilla said getting a multiyear contract won't change him as a pitcher, either.

"They've shown confidence in me," Padilla said. "This is extra motivation for me. If I pitch well, I'll get another big contract."

Rupe takes it easy: Josh Rupe took it easy in his Monday bullpen session, hoping to avoid the same problems that he had last spring that cost him a shot at the Rangers rotation.

"Nice and easy," Rupe said. "I kind of realize you don't make the team on the first day of camp. I knew that last year, but I still wanted to make sure I was ready."

He over-did it. He came to Spring Training having thrown a dozen times off the mound already and that turned out not to be a good thing. By the middle of March, Rupe was down with a severe case of inflammation in his elbow. Instead of opening the season in the Rangers rotation, he ended up on the disabled list.

"I was in midseason form on the first day and it eventually caught up to me," Rupe said.

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He did make it to the Majors at the end of July, but only as a reliever. Now, he's a candidate for the rotation and could be the early leader if he stays healthy and is effective with what his bosses call four "above-average" pitches.

"In the long run, I'd like to be a starter," Rupe said. "I'm getting a chance again, this time I'm going to take my time and get it right."

Gagne throws: Eric Gagne took the mound on Monday for the first time since camp opened and threw 37 pitches without a problem. He was supposed to stick to fastballs and changeups but mixed in a few breaking balls as well.

"My arm feels good," Gagne said. "I was just working on being nice and easy and keeping the ball down. The thing I need right now is arm strength and the only way you're going to do that is throw as much as you can."

He said it: "Whatever they want to do in the clubhouse they can do as long as the police and the firemen don't show up. I just want them to feel comfortable."
-- Washington on the players making the clubhouse their own

Briefly: Pitcher Thomas Diamond threw on flat ground instead of a mound because of an in-grown toenail and some inflammation in his elbow. He'll go off a mound on Wednesday. ... Rain showers came through the Phoenix area late in the morning and slightly cut short the Rangers' workout. But Washington said, "We pretty much got most of our work in." ... Outfielder Kenny Lofton has arrived in camp.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.