Chacin, Sanchez, Pirela join Padres in Venezuela

Recent signees playing winter ball at home

Chacin, Sanchez, Pirela join Padres in Venezuela

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Three players recently signed by the Padres -- right-handed starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, catcher Hector Sanchez and infielder-outfielder Jose Pirela -- are playing winter ball in their native Venezuela.

The 28-year-old Chacin, who will contend for a spot in the Padres' rotation, is 2-2 with a 2.54 ERA in five starts for Caracas. He has allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on 31 hits and five walks with 21 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings.

The switch-hitting Sanchez, 27, is hitting .320 with a home run and three doubles for five RBIs in 50 at-bats with La Guaira. He has a .370 on-base percentage and .440 slugging percentage for an .810 OPS.

Pirela, 27, is batting .341 for Zulia. He has eight doubles, two triples and two home runs for 16 RBIs and 27 runs scored in 123 at-bats. He has a .404 on-base percentage with a .488 slugging percentage for an .892 OPS.

Both Sanchez and Pirela played briefly with the Padres last season and were re-signed to Minor League contracts after being non-tendered from the 40-man roster. Both are currently listed on the roster of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League-champion El Paso Chihuahuas with an invitation to Spring Training.

Chacin signed with the Padres as a free agent.

Two other Padres are playing in Venezuela. Shortstop Jose Rondon is hitting .259 with seven doubles, three triples and a home run in 147 at-bats with a .333 on-base percentage for Aragua. And left-hander Jose Castillo has not allowed a run over 14 relief appearances with Magallanes (nine hits and five walks allowed against eight strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings).

Meanwhile, Padres Minor Leaguers right-handed pitcher Zech Lemond and catcher Marcus Greene Jr. will be playing on the World Team in the Australian Baseball League All-Star Game in Melbourne on Thursday.

Greene is batting .282 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 78 at-bats for Adelaide. Lemond has a 0.00 ERA over 10 innings in eight relief appearances with Canberra. He has allowed four hits and five walks with 13 strikeouts. Infielder River Stevens will not play in the All-Star Game but is hitting .310 with Canberra.

While many Padres playing winter ball are ending their commitments, Christian Bethancourt is scheduled to launch his bid to become a hybrid catcher-pitcher-outfielder when the Panamanian Winter League starts play on Jan. 6.

In Mexico, Otay Ranch High product Fernando Perez is hitting .337 with a .396 on-base percentage and a .495 slugging percentage for Hermosillo. Perez has six doubles and three homers for 17 runs scored and 13 RBIs in 95 at-bats.