Notes: Padres likely to carry 12 pitchers

Notes: Padres likely to carry 12 pitchers

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nothing's official yet, but manager Bud Black said on Tuesday that he's leaning toward carrying 12 pitches on the Opening Day roster.

"That's what the preliminary discussion has been," Black said prior to San Diego's game against Arizona. "It looks like as though 12 at this point is a stronger possibility than 11."

Black cited several reasons for the decision to go with 12 pitches, one being the Padres' schedule in the opening month of the season. San Diego will play 19 games in a 20-day stretch before getting their second day off on April 23.

"I think that there's a lot of factors," Black said. "The schedule does have a say in it."

Another factor is that, other than Jake Peavy, the Padres don't have a staff that's exactly brimming with pitchers who have a history of logging big pitch counts.

Peavy ranked seventh last season among Major League pitchers who threw 150 or more innings with an average of 104.8 pitches per game. Chris Young ranked 23rd (97.7) and Clay Hensley (93.9) ranked 35th.

The two eldest members of the Padres' starting rotation -- Greg Maddux and David Wells -- aren't the workhorses they once were. Maddux threw 210 innings in 2006, his second-lowest total since 1987. He also averaged just 82.4 pitches per start.

In Wells' five starts with San Diego last season, he averaged 78 pitches per start. Going back to 2005, when he won 15 games with Boston, Wells averaged 92.4 pitches per start.

And lower pitch counts, especially during April, could mean more work for the bullpen.

"There's a little bit of history of pitch counts with our pitchers," Black said.

Another factor Black cited as a potential reason to keep 12 pitchers involves something he never had to worry about during his days as pitching coach with the Angels -- pinch-hitting for the starting pitcher in a close game.

"I think last year you saw the number of close games in the middle portion -- fifth, sixth and seventh [innings] -- where we're tied or behind where you have to hit for the pitcher," Black said. "That necessitates keeping maybe that 12th [pitcher]."

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Boomer's week: Wells threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and is on track to make his Cactus League debut in a split-squad game Friday when San Diego visits the Angels in Tempe.

Wells adheres to a different throwing program in Spring Training than most pitchers, one that takes him a little longer to get his left arm in shape.

At one point during the session, backup catcher Rob Bowen asked Wells if he could stand in to simply watch pitches come through the strike zone. Wells replied, "I don't care. If it hits you, it won't hurt."

San Diego pitching coach Darren Balsley, who said Wells threw about 40 pitches, was impressed with the relative ease that the 43-year-old threw.

"Boomer's fine, he had a great delivery," Balsley said. "It's pretty easy to work with him. It's pretty close to flawless as far as a delivery goes."

Surprising Sledge: While it's probably far too early to get excited about the .444 batting average outfielder Terrmel Sledge took into Tuesday's game against Arizona, it's worth noting that two of Sledge's hits have gone for home runs.

And both have come against left-handed pitchers, something the Padres might not have expected to see from the left-handed hitting Sledge, even though his career batting splits -- .247 against left-handers, .265 against righties -- isn't as one-sided as one might think.

"It shows that he hangs in there against lefties and doesn't seem to be affected by the left-handed breaking ball," Black said. "It's a great sign for us."

And certainly a good sign for Sledge, who is among several hopefuls attempting to win the starting left-field job by Opening Day.

Sledge hit a home run against Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn on Saturday and then launched a mammoth blast off Kansas City lefty Jorge De La Rosa in Surprise, Ariz., on Monday.

"It's been nine at-bats but he's had, I want to say, nine good at-bats," Black said.

Padres log: Chris Young allowed a second-inning home run to Arizona's Scott Hairston but not much else in his three innings of work in Tuesday night's game. Young allowed a run on two hits with three strikeouts. San Diego travels to Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday to face the Angels at 1:05 p.m. MT. Hensley gets his second start of the spring. He's scheduled to go three innings. Hensley will be followed by Ryan Ketchner, Doug Brocail, Andrew Brown, Kevin Cameron, Jack Cassel and Scott Cassidy.

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