Capps closing in on rehab assignment

Capps closing in on rehab assignment

LOS ANGELES -- For the first time since coming to the Padres at the Trade Deadline last season, Carter Capps joined the team on the road. He even took the Dodger Stadium mound on Tuesday.

The hard-throwing right-hander was merely throwing a simulated inning as he continues his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he had 13 months ago. But he came out of the session feeling good, and the Padres think Capps is on track for a rehab assignment early next week.

"It's kind of bittersweet, because you want to be out there," Capps said. "There's two sides, good and bad. It's great to be with the guys. I didn't get to go on the road at all last year, so this feels like I'm making progress."

Capps threw 21 pitches in his simulated inning, facing Allen Cordoba and Luis Sardinas. Once he finished, Capps retreated to the bullpen to throw a few more pitches.

"The ball was coming out really good, slider had some depth, so I was excited about that," Capps said. "I'm just kind of itching to get in games."

Capps, who joined the Padres as part of the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to Miami, missed last season because of the elbow injury. He posted a 1.16 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 31 innings in 2015.

Rule change may impact Capps

Best known for his quirky delivery, Capps appeared in two Cactus League games this spring. He allowed two runs on two hits and three walks. The Padres felt he wasn't quite ready, so they placed him on the disabled list, but manager Andy Green noted some progress.

"His arm looks healthy, his body looks alive," Green said. "He wants to pitch."

Cosart's new weapon?

Right-hander Jarred Cosart, who missed out on the final rotation spot, is in the process of adding a slider to his arsenal. Cosart could certainly use a complement to his cutter -- his best pitch, but not one that induces whiffs.

"He hasn't closed at-bats at the rate we'd like him to," Green said. "His curveball isn't really a top-of-the-line finish pitch. The cutter gets the ball put in play, but it doesn't finish. We're looking for something for him that moves that strikeout rate up."

If Cosart can master the slider in the 'pen, it might not be long before he's back in the rotation.

"We want him to be a starter in the long run," Green said. "If he finds that slider in the 'pen, finds a way to finish hitters, that's going to serve him well in the future."

Diaz impresses

Green will continue to ease his three Rule 5 players into game action. But he feels righty Miguel Diaz -- who threw 1 1/3 perfect frames in Monday's opener -- is close to competing for high-leverage innings.

"Diaz can easily pitch himself into a prominent role in our bullpen at some time," Green said. "Right now, I don't think that's the best role for him to get into. But yesterday's a great starting point for him."

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.