Notes: Branyan turns it on late

Padres notes: Branyan coming on late

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Players will often grouse that six weeks of Spring Training is too long.

You won't find Russell Branyan complaining, not after what he's done the last two days.

Branyan, who will make the team as a reserve infielder and outfielder, raised his batting average 97 points after two blissful days of swinging the bat at Surprise Stadium.

Branyan hit two more home runs in the Padres' 7-6 victory over the Royals Wednesday, giving him four in the last two days with nine RBIs in consecutive victories over the Texas and Kansas City.

"Something started clicking for me," said Branyan, who raised his average from .163 to .260. "Yesterday, I made an adjustment halfway through the game and started swinging at the breaking ball better and fastball better. I was happy with the aggressive swings I was taking."

Branyan said the troubles that he had prior to Tuesday had nothing to do with his swing, but with his approach and being better prepared mentally to hit the moment he steps into the box.

"There's no sense in the way I've been taking pitches and letting them go and just being indecisive," he said. "It boiled down to not being in a good position to swing the bat. I would take good batting practice, work nicely in my drills and get in the game, and then I wasn't in a position to hit."

Part of Branyan's change of plans has to do with not trying to muscle up on the ball every time. He's tried that the last two days, and behold, he's hit four home runs and had six hits in nine at-bats.

"I'm realizing you don't have to try harder to hit it when it's coming faster," he said.

On the mend: There's still no word on the MRI outfielder Paul McAnulty had on his surgically repaired right knee, the one he tweaked on March 18. He hasn't played since, though he did take part in a full range of workouts for the second consecutive day on Wednesday.

"Mac is going to go through all the drills -- hit on the field, take some fly balls -- and he is going to run," manager Bud Black said. "He's getting close to playing on the field."

Black said he does not need to see McAnulty play anymore to sway him one way or the other as to if he belongs on the 25-man roster or not. The Padres have said that they like McAnulty's left-handed bat.

"We're going off feel," McAnulty said. "I feel like I'm getting back to 100 percent. The MRI is going to show something because I had surgery on it five months ago. If the MRI shows something else other than what we think it is, we'll address it at that time."

As for outfielder Mike Cameron, who hasn't played since Sunday because of a strained right hamstring, he told Black he felt better on Wednesday. He was to hit in the batting cages Wednesday while the team plays Kansas City in Surprise.

"He's progressing," Black said.

Also, right-handed pitcher Tim Stauffer -- who hasn't pitched since March 17 -- threw on the side Wednesday as he continues to recover from a muscle strain near his right biceps.

Stauffer was optioned to Triple-A Portland on Wednesday.

Black said Wednesday that he didn't expect to carry any players to be on the disabled list when the season opens April 3 in San Francisco.

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Too little, too late? Left-handed relief pitcher Justin Hampson tossed a scoreless inning in Monday's game against Kansas City, allowing a hit while striking out one hitter.

Hampson, who along with Royce Ring, were the two primary in-house candidates for the left-handed relief role that now no longer exists, hadn't pitched in a game since March 11 because of an elbow strain.

"We're just happy he's back on the mound and feeling well," Black said. "I know that he impressed us early in camp. It would have been nice to see him through all of camp, but that didn't happen."

Hampson has allowed two runs in five official Cactus League games, allowing three hits and four strikeouts. He'll likely begin the season with Triple-A Portland, but Black would not rule out seeing him at some point this season.

"By the way he threw early, if it doesn't happen for him when we break, he's definitely on the radar," Black said. "We've been impressed by his stuff."

The whole nine innings: Josh Bard said that he had no trouble climbing out of bed Wednesday, a sure sign that the Padres catcher is ready for Opening Day.

Bard caught all nine innings in Tuesday's 24-7 victory over the Rangers in Surprise. It's the first time he's gone the distance behind the plate this spring. Bard said he felt good after the game and, more importantly, fine physically when he got up Wednesday.

"It's something you've got to do in camp," Bard said. "I was excited to be able to make it through nine innings. I felt great. As far as the work I've put in during the offseason, my body feels great. I feel like I've passed the first test."

On Wednesday, Rob Bowen -- who will serve as Bard's backup -- caught all nine innings against the Royals.

Pads and ends: The Padres are giving fans an opportunity to pick which song will be played at PETCO Park this season after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." a href="">Fans can vote for their song of choice to be played during the seventh-inning stretch during home games. ... The team trimmed its roster to 33 players when it optioned Stauffer to Triple-A Portland. ... The Padres have a split-squad game scheduled for Thursday. In Peoria, Jake Peavy makes his final spring start against the Mariners at 12:05 p.m. PT. At Chase Field in Phoenix, Mike Thompson gets the start in a game against the Diamondbacks at 6:40 p.m. PT. ... Babe Ruth's daughter was at the game Wednesday. Julia Ruth Stevens, 89, who lives in Surprise, watched part of the Padres' victory over the Royals from the press box.

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