Competitions await as pitchers get underway

Few roles are set in Padres rotation, bullpen

Competitions await as pitchers get underway

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres pitchers and catchers officially reported to the club's Spring Training complex Tuesday. In doing so, they brought the palpable sense of excitement that comes with the start of any new season.

So what does reporting day -- one of the most highly anticipated dates on the calendar for many fans -- mean to Padres skipper Andy Green?

"It means a lot of guys are getting physicals," Green quipped.

Indeed, Tuesday's activities at Padres camp were relatively tame. The remainder of the squad won't report until Friday, and the first mandatory workout for pitchers and catchers takes place Wednesday.

"I never make too much out of one day," Green said. "We can say something inspiring in four days when the whole club meets, and it really doesn't mean anything. It matters who you are in June or July or August or September. This is just the start; we want to point the team in the right direction."

Left-hander Clayton Richard, who re-signed with the Padres during the offseason, took a similar view, noting that Tuesday served as the day individual efforts become collective.

"This is the day that we come together," Richard said. "All offseason, you're working on what you can do to get better yourself. But when it comes here to Spring Training, it's what we can do to get us better."

At 33, Richard is the elder statesman on an extremely young Padres roster. He spoke of his excitement at returning to San Diego, where he spent five seasons from 2009-13 before rejoining the club last August.

In 11 outings for the Padres last year, Richard posted a 2.52 ERA, leading the Majors in ground-ball rate during that span. It was enough to convince the Padres to bring him back.

"There were [other options]," Richard said. "But at the end of the day, this stuck out for many reasons: family, opportunity to start and the exciting group of players. That sometimes gets overlooked, how much fun this group can be if we all are working toward the same goal."

Richard, Padres agree to deal

Richard, Chacin appear rotation-bound

Asked how many pitchers are in the rotation mix entering camp, Green said the number is close to 10. Breaking things down further, it seems likely that eight pitchers will compete for three spots.

Barring something unforeseen, Richard and Jhoulys Chacin are expected to begin the year in the rotation.

"There's a lot of spots open for competition and possibilities for guys that don't make the rotation to slide to the bullpen," Green said. "I feel pretty good saying that Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin are guys we signed to pitch in the rotation. Outside of that, there's been no promise to any one person. All those guys have an opportunity to compete."

Luis Perdomo and Christian Friedrich are also favorites for rotation spots, while Jarred Cosart, Trevor Cahill, Paul Clemens, Tyrell Jenkins and Cesar Vargas are in the mix as well.

"It's healthy," Richard said of the competition. "We'll see how it plays out. ... It's a good thing to have depth at this level. You need it."

Friars tinker with relievers' schedule

The Padres have shortened the throwing programs for some of their relievers, easing the burden of a longer camp this year.

Because of next month's World Baseball Classic, games will begin earlier than usual this spring. (The Padres open their slate on Feb. 25 against Seattle.) But Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer likely won't see the mound in game action until early March.

Hand strikes out side in 7th

Maurer and Buchter exceeded their career highs in appearances last season, while Hand led the Majors, pitching in 82 games.

"A relief pitcher doesn't need that type of progression, to be on the mound Feb. 25," Green said. "Those guys got taxed last year and had long seasons. We're going to look to curtail some of their early throwing and put them in a position to be successful in the month of September."

In other bullpen news, Carter Capps is slated to throw a side session on Wednesday. He's showing no ill effects from the Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the 2016 season, Green said.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.