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