Notes: Cameron gets back into swing

Notes: Cameron gets back into swing

PEORIA, Ariz. -- When Mike Cameron dusted off the winter rust for his initial Padres Spring Training batting practice, two future Hall of Famers were waiting for him on the mound.

"I had it easy, facing [Greg] Maddux and [Trevor] Hoffman," Cameron said. "They have pinpoint control."

Cameron would rather face those two than some rookie flamethrower with a 97 mph fastball trying to make an early impression.

"With a 22-year-old, you'll see all the coaches are standing behind the cage," Cameron said. "He is going to be trying to zing it up there. He may see me stand in the box and it's like I'm going to try to get this guy out. Sometimes when you throw your hardest, you don't have your best command at this particular time of Spring Training."

Cameron takes more pitches than he takes swings early in spring, something he said he picked up from John Olerud when they both played for the Mariners.

"I just go in and train my eyes," Cameron said. "Why swing when you're not ready? I didn't swing but like two times. In a couple of days, I'll take a couple of hacks to see where my swing is. I wouldn't even want to do that now when my eyes, [which] are not ready, and my body are not combined. I don't want to start making too many bad habits.

"The thing about Spring Training is getting your eyes, hands, back and all of those kind of things ready. I try to pay attention to what is going on because you are building a foundation on what you want to have hopefully over the course of the season."

While a rookie pitcher might try to light up radar guns to impress, a young slugger might attempt to lash a barrage of 450-foot bombs in batting practice to put on a show. Cameron, who broke into the Majors in 1995 with the White Sox and is in his second year with the Padres, is more interested in hitting the ball to all fields than over the fence in batting practice.

"I try to hit hard ground balls and line drives until I get loose, especially to the right side and the middle of the field, so I can get my body in tune with what I want to do with the right kind of repetition and also be able to strengthen my hands and my wrists," Cameron said.

"By the first exhibition game, I want to be at least sound enough where I can go out and compete because it is a game. I still get the nerves. When we play an intrasquad game, I'll be a little nervous. It is born and bred in you. When you start to compete, you start getting a little nervous. You don't want to be afraid to fail, but you try to perfect this craft so you don't go out and embarrass yourself."

Spring Training
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Batting practice misnomer: They call it batting practice, but it should be labeled pitching practice the first couple of weeks of Spring Training.

"This is for the pitchers to face hitters," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The pitchers have been here awhile and are ahead of the hitters. They need to have a batter stand in there. Those guys aren't ready to have great swings. The pitcher's intensity picks up when a batter steps in there."

Black said Spring Training "goes in stages" and that there is "always an exciting day or two" when the pitchers and catchers report and then the position players check in. Then camp falls into a routine -- situational hitting, pitchers fielding practice, bunt plays, rundown drills, etc.

"You need the early work to prepare your fundamentals especially with me [being new], some new coaches and a couple of additional Minor League staff members who are in camp, so we'll all be on the same page as far as fundamentals and drills and carry some of those things down to the Minor League camp."

Familiar faces: With 31 pitchers in camp, Black is spending time getting to know them, especially the young pitchers with limited or no time in the Majors.

"They've been here for a week, so I have a pretty good grasp of their stuff and I'm getting to know their personalities a little bit," Black said.

Injury update: Geoff Blum has restricted activities because of tightness in his back. "He is getting better, but is still limited," Black said. "We're being cautious. We don't want him to have any setbacks before we get into games." ... Black said Todd Greene, who has a dislocated shoulder, left Saturday to return to Atlanta and is expected back in a week to be examined again. ... Russell Branyan was hit in the knee by a Cla Meredith pitch in batting practice. "That is one of those things where you are scared initially, but he bounced right back up and he was fine five minutes later," Black said.

Alan Eskew is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.