Notes: Maddux set for Minors game

Notes: Maddux set for Minor League game

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After missing one start with a mild abdominal strain, right-hander Greg Maddux is slated to work for the Padres on the back fields of the Peoria Sports Complex against Texas Rangers Minor Leaguers on Saturday, Padres manager Bud Black said.

Black said the decision was made to hold Maddux out of Saturday's Padres game at HoHoKam Park against the Cubs so the 40-year-old veteran of 20 seasons could start in a "controlled environment."

"That means if he gets to a certain number of pitches in the inning, we can call the inning off," Black said hours before the Padres left camp to play the Rangers on Friday night at Surprise Stadium. "You can do that. You can even add pitches. Say he throws four pitches in an inning. You can say, 'Stay out there. Keep him going. Let him face another hitter.'"

Maddux opted out of his last start Monday against the White Sox in Tucson, saying he could have undoubtedly played if it had been a regular-season game. Maddux told Black that he thought he had tweaked his abdomen throwing a pitch when he previously started March 8 against the Cubs in Peoria.

Maddux, a free-agent signee this past offseason, has a 3.60 earned run average (two earned runs in five innings), with two walks, four strikeouts and no decisions in his first two spring starts for the Padres.

One wouldn't think that a Hall of Fame pitcher of his caliber who has won 333 games would have much trouble pacing himself and getting ready for the season, sans one start. But Black wants to keep the injury localized to that one start, thus the reason he's having Maddux work in a Minor League game.

"Primarily, we want to make sure that he's healthy," said Black, a renowned Major League pitcher in his own right with a background of experience coaching pitchers for the Angels. "If for some reason it did flare up and we had to take him out early, then we'd have to come up with eight innings of pitching [in a Cactus League game]. This way, we can monitor the situation a little bit better."

For those wondering, the new Padres manager won't be doing the monitoring. He's taking the trip to Mesa with the Major League starters, and pitching coach Darren Balsley will be left behind in Peoria to watch Maddux.

Hensley back from flu: Clay Hensley also missed a start, but in this instance from the flu.

"I hadn't been that sick since I was a little kid," Hensley said about the illness that spread like wildfire around the Padres clubhouse. "It's been awhile since I've been so sick where I couldn't get out of bed for two days."

Hensley made his third spring start Friday night against the Rangers and worked out of bases-loaded situations without allowing a run in the first and third innings. Brad Wilkerson was the out guy both times, bouncing to first to end the first inning and into a 3-6-1 double play to end the third.

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Hensley worked three scoreless innings, allowing three hits while walking three, whiffing two and hitting a batter.

"I think that was a little bit of combination of not being sharp as I wanted to be and taking so much time off," said Hensley, who hadn't thrown in nine days, having missed his start this past Sunday. "I had picked up the ball twice before I threw tonight. Between that and being so sick played a part in my being off on my mechanics."

Around the horn:The Padres outrighted outfielder Jack Cust to Triple-A Portland on Friday, leaving 42 players in camp, 32 on the 40-man roster and 10 non-roster invitees. Cust, 28, was 1-for-3 in four games for the Padres last season, but played most of 2006 in Portland. He hit .316 (6-for-19) in 11 Cactus League games. ... Switch-hitting catcher Josh Bard is Black's probable cleanup hitter against right-handed starters, and Friday night, he hit his second homer of the spring, this one against Rangers right-hander Jamey Wright, who's trying to win a spot on the Texas staff. Black said before the game that he's anticipating dropping Bard down in the order against left-handers behind Mike Cameron and Adrian Gonzalez. In the absence of Mike Piazza, who signed as a free agent with Oakland this past offseason, Black is projecting Bard to start at least 100 games. He started 50 as a backup to Piazza last season. ... Marcus Giles was back in the lineup at second base for the first time since March 9, missing the time primarily because of a right quad injury. He was 1-for-3 and left the game after flying out to end the top of the fourth inning.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.