"I wasn't able to hit outside once," Kouzmanoff said, "but I got in my work indoors. I'm really looking forward to this. It's a great opportunity for me, and I'm ready to go."Known for his intense work ethic as well as for a bat that makes solid, consistent contact, the man who answers to "Kouz" is hoping to nail down the third-base job after coming to San Diego in an offseason deal along with pitcher Andrew Brown for second baseman Josh Barfield. "I've played with Josh in winter ball, and I know what a great player and person he is," Kouzmanoff said. "Those are big shoes to fill, but I think I can help this team win." Of Macedonian descent, Kouz has attracted several nicknames along the way, including the Crushin' Russian. "I don't know what it is, but everywhere I've gone I get these things hung on me," he said, grinning. All he wants to be known as in San Diego is the everyday third baseman, he added. Maddux streak: If not for being held out of a final start by Atlanta for precautionary reasons in 2002, Greg Maddux would be working on an incredible run of 18 consecutive seasons with 200 or more innings pitched. "I started developing a blister," he said, "and they said, 'Let's get it right for the postseason.' So I didn't go out there." Maddux delivered 199 1/3 innings that season, adding six more and a win in the National League Division Series. Well-worn Gold Glove: With the black Rawlings mitt that has delivered three Rawlings Gold Gloves for Mike Cameron -- including one last season -- showing wear and tear, the Padres center fielder is breaking in a couple of new candidates. "This one's been really good to me," Cameron said, handling his constant companion of the past decade. "But it's got a hole in it, and it's showing its age a little." Cameron related a conversation he once had with his Seattle teammate Edgar Martinez, one of the premier hitters of his generation. "Hey, Edgar, anybody can hit .320 with your swing," Cameron said. "Try doing it with my swing."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.