Notes: Peavy enjoying relaxed spring

Notes: Peavy enjoying relaxed spring

PHOENIX -- In his last two starts, Jake Peavy has pitched 9 2/3 innings of one-run ball, watching his ERA cut itself nearly in his half as his comfort and confidence levels have increased exponentially.

The relaxed spring atmosphere of tooling his craft during exhibition games with the Rangers and A's over his last two starts is a far cry from the two starts he was making a year ago, wearing the red, white and blue jerseys of Team USA as he competed in the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

"Last year I was coming off some [Classic] starts where I was letting it go and trying to do everything I could do to get outs," Peavy said after his outing Monday. "Hopefully, I'll be better prepared for the season staying here. Without a question, this is more conducive to doing what we're here to do."

Peavy remembers last spring's competition as some of the most intense baseball he's ever played, with the stakes as high as it gets.

"You put that jersey on, representing your country, and shoot, you're going as hard as you ever went before on any field," Peavy recalled. "There was more intensity than Opening Day. Opening Day was almost a letdown after that. It was unbelievable. I just can't tell you the sense of pride you had. It was an experience I wouldn't dare go back and take away, because it was the coolest thing I've ever done on a baseball field."

Still, perhaps because of the intensity level, it didn't give Peavy the kind of preparation he ideally likes heading into a season. By mid-May, he was experiencing pain in his shoulder, and though there's no way of knowing if it was directly related to the high-octane starts in international competition, the contrast to the Cactus League couldn't be any clearer.

"Obviously this is a more relaxed environment, conducive to getting ready for the season," Peavy said. "It's been pretty smooth so far. We've left no seat unturned with the work we've put in in the winter and the spring."

The only item left to check off his "to-do" list is to build up his pitch count. He threw 88 pitches against the A's on Monday, and he felt comfortable using all of his pitches in any situation. His only personal grievance was a pair of leadoff walks, one in the third against Daric Barton and another in the fifth facing Mark Scutaro.

"I'm going to be a little stubborn here," Peavy said, refusing to let the walks wash off him quickly. "The one to Scutaro didn't bother me, but on the one early, I threw four straight fastballs, wide right. That's not making an adjustment quick enough."

The walks were sandwiched around six strikeouts, and he yielded only three hits in his shutout outing, so he couldn't deny that something seemed to be working for him.

"Everything feels pretty good," Peavy conceded. "I still have a little bit to work out. Just the fastball command. I'll have two more starts, one more that I'll throw probably 90-so pitches and then one more that I'll throttle off before my first start of the season."

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

If he stays on schedule, that first start of the season should be the Padres' first game of the season, and with no distractions from pitching for the red, white and blue this March, Peavy doesn't expect any kind of letdown when that first anthem is played.

Laforest for the trees: Catching prospect Pete Laforest wielded some big lumber Monday, knocking a solo shot off Estaban Loaiza in the second and a three-run blast off Shawn Kohn in the eighth.

"Pete swung the bat well," said manager Bud Black. "Merv [Rettenmund, Padres hitting coach] was saying the last couple days that he really likes the way Pete's been swinging in the cage, swinging on the field. I'm sure it didn't surprise Merv how Pete swung the bat today."

Laforest raised his average 64 points to .278, and is considered a long shot for a backup catching job.

"Pete's a guy that's been working hard and impressing the pitching staff," Black noted.

Broke nail: Reliever Doug Brocail was bothered by a fingernail problem again Monday, causing him to hold back from throwing his breaking balls. Brocail originally tore the nail a week ago in a game against the Rockies.

Germano back on board: The Padres claimed right-handed pitcher Justin Germano off waivers from the Phillies on Monday.

The 24-year-old was originally drafted by the Padres in 2000 and made his Major League debut with the club on May 22, 2004, earning the win. He went 1-2 with an 8.64 ERA for the Padres in 2004 and was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA for the Reds in 2006, his only other big-league experience.

Germano is a veteran of seven seasons in the Minors with the Padres (2000-2005), Reds (2005-2006) and Phillies (2006) organizations. He is 69-51 with a 3.69 ERA in 175 Minor League games, including 165 starts.

Germano pitched eight innings over the course of five appearances for the Phillies in the Grapefruit League this spring, compiling a 4.50 ERA.

"I don't know a lot about him, but he's familiar to a lot of people in our organization," Black said, indicating that Germano is likely to start the season at Triple-A. "I think he's a guy that adds depth to our upper-level pitching."

On deck: The Padres host the Angels on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT. Chris Young takes the hill for the home team, facing the Angels' Ervin Santana.

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