Notes: Maddux tries to get outs in spring

Notes: Maddux tries to get outs in spring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's not entirely unusual for starting pitchers to use their early Cactus League appearances as a testing ground of sorts for new grips or possibly new pitches.

San Diego's Chris Young has worked on pitching to contact earlier in the count, while teammate Clay Hensley is attempting to find a better comfort level with his changeup.

Greg Maddux, making his Padres debut Sunday against the A's, tried something a little more, well, less complicated during his two-inning stint at the Peoria Sports Complex.

"I was trying to get my two innings in without giving up any runs," Maddux said, flatly. "That was it. I don't really want to work on stuff. I want to work on trying to get outs."

When you've won 333 career games, as Maddux has, it's very hard to argue against this simplified approach.

Maddux got his two scoreless innings in, though it wasn't as easy as he might have liked.

The 40-year-old Maddux -- who signed a one-year $10 million contract in December -- allowed three of the first five batters he faced in the first inning to reach base. With one out, Nick Swisher singled to center. Maddux then walked Dan Johnson before he struck out Erubiel Durazo for the second out.

Maddux then walked his second batter of the inning, Adam Melhuse, before striking out Antonio Perez looking on a pitch up in the strike zone that even Maddux admitted wasn't much of strike.

Mostly, Maddux -- who threw 40 pitches -- was miffed at his lack of command early on.

"I was wild," he said. "... It was a good wild because I was wild out of the strike zone instead of in it. But it still stinks being wild."

Maddux recovered nicely in the second inning, even after allowing a one-out single to Donnie Murphy. Maddux struck out Charles Thomas on a nasty curveball and then got Lou Merloni to pop out to shortstop Khalil Greene to end the inning.

"It went good, my arm felt good, my legs felt good," Maddux said. "Hopefully next time I'll feel a little bit better. That's what you hope for. I just want to get comfortable. You want to be able to see and think in a comfortable way. Hopefully, next week I'll be a little more comfortable."

Brannan arrives: It's a safe bet than none of the other players who are in Minor League camp received as much media attention as pitcher Cooper Brannan did Sunday.

Brannan, 22, is the Marine corporal who signed to pitch for the Padres last month. He and the rest of the team's Minor League pitchers and catchers reported to the Peoria Sports Complex on Sunday for their first workouts.

But while the rest of his new teammates stretched, took batting practice and played catch, Brannan answered questions from reporters about his story -- his time in Iraq and how he lost his left pinky and his dreams of making it to the Major Leagues.

"I've always had a baseball mind-set," said Brannan, who is from nearby Gilbert, Ariz. "Even when I was in Iraq, you're holding your weapon and it's almost like holding a bat."

Brannan was able to play catch during his two tours in Iraq but often had to do so while wearing a 60-pound flak jacket. "Talk about bad mechanics," he joked.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Kouzmanoff says club is ready:  350K
• Padres game highlights, March 31:  350K
• Bud Black interview:  350K
• Padres highlights:  350K
• Peavy on starting Opening Day:  350K
• Padres game highlights, March 29:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Brannan has been working out with Poway High pitching coach Dom Johnson since his press conference in San Diego last month. The Padres recommended Johnson after the 6-foot-4, 235-pound pitcher threw well at a tryout in front of one of their scouts, Brendan Hause.

"He's a great pitching coach. I couldn't ask for anything better," Brannan said of Johnson. "He's got me throwing from 85 mph to the low 90s now."

Brannan lost his left pinky in September 2005 when he reached to retrieve a flash-bang grenade from his vest. The grenade malfunctioned, badly injuring his hand. Brannan had two surgeries to sew his left thumb and ring finger back on. His pinkie couldn't be saved.

He's scheduled to be discharged sometime in May, team officials said.

Starting Monday, the questions will stop and Brannan can go about the business of being a professional baseball player. He's excited and confident and it's not a stretch for him to think he could be pitching in PETCO Park someday.

"It's not so much if but when I make it," he said.

A Cactus League rarity: A day after the Padres defeated the Mariners 1-0, manager Bud Black was still in awe over the fact that a game that featured one run could be played during the Cactus League schedule.

"It's way rare," Black said of the game that lasted just 2 hours and 6 minutes. "It just doesn't happen in the Cactus League. The wind was blowing in a little bit and I thought, for both sides, there might have been a liberal strike zone."

While Saturday's score merited some surprise, Black didn't think it was so unusual that the pitching was more impressive than the hitting.

"At this time of year, the pitching is a little ahead of the hitting," Black said. "These guys haven't seen live pitching since September or October. They have seen some live batting practice, but it's different when the game starts."

Padres log: Jake Peavy gets the start Monday in a Cactus League game against Kansas City in Surprise. Mike Thompson, Kevin Cameron, Frank Brooks, Leo Rosales and Adrian Burnside are also scheduled to pitch. ... Single-game ticket sales surpassed 71,500 on the first day. ... David Wells threw batting practice Sunday and is scheduled for a bullpen session in a few days. Black said Wells could make his Cactus League debut later in the week. "It went very well," Wells said. "I don't feel 100 percent velocity-wise, but it's getting there."

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