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Notes: Lefties seeking bullpen spots

Notes: Lefties seeking bullpen spots

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A year ago, Padres manager Bud Black opened the season with no left-handed pitchers in his bullpen. This season, Black could carry as many as two, but if he does, it won't simply be for conventional reasons.

Black isn't cut from the managerial cloth that adheres to carrying at least one left-hander for situational purposes. Instead, Black wants to carry the seven best relievers, regardless of what arm they throw with.

"This is something we did in Anaheim," Black said. "When you're talking about relievers, if you have guys who are capable of getting both left-handers and right-handers out, then you don't need to be so situational with left-on-left, right-on-right.

"That's primarily what we look at. ... Can they get hitters out, regardless of left or right?"

It just so happens that two of the pitchers competing for spots in the bullpen who can do so, or at least did so a year ago, are left-handers: Joe Thatcher and Justin Hampson.

Hampson was 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 39 games and had the distinction of being on the Triple-A Portland-to-San Diego shuttle more than any pitcher in 2007. He held left-handers to a .213 batting average and right-handers to a .255 clip.

As for Thatcher, who came over from Milwaukee in the Scott Linebrink trade in July, he was 2-2 with a 1.29 ERA in 22 games. He earned important innings in September. Left-handers hit .200 against him, while right-handers hit .151, as Thatcher was able to use a cut-fastball to get in on the hands of righties.

It remains to be seen if Hampson and Thatcher -- both still have Minor League options -- make the team, one or the other or neither. There is plenty of competition this spring for four spots after Cla Meredith, Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell.

"We will not hold a left-handed pitcher just to face a left-handed batter," Black said. "There has got to be performance there. Both of those guys [Hampson and Thatcher] we feel can perform against left or right.

"They showed they were good against left-handed hitters. They proved in basically their first year that they're Major League pitchers. They've got to continue to prove that they belong."

The first casualty: The distinction for the first injured player of the spring -- and he certainly won't be the last -- goes to reliever Carlos Guevara, who suffered a strained hamstring Sunday.

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Black said Guevara suffered the injury during conditioning drills and will be limited for anywhere from a week to 10 days, which means no pitching off the mound, according to Black.

Guevara was selected in December's Rule 5 Draft and has to stay on the Padres roster the entire season or be offered back to his original team -- the Reds -- for $50,000.

Guevara and fellow Rule 5 acquisition Michael Gardner are part of the mix for the few open spots in the Padres bullpen.

Standing pat: The Padres have been linked to a handful of free-agent outfielders, like Shannon Stewart, though general manager Kevin Towers said Monday that the team is unlikely to add any free agents before now and the end of Spring Training.

"Unless there's an injury, we're pretty comfortable with the 64 guys that we have in camp right now," he said. "The only thing I could maybe see happening is a potential trade. We have had some discussions with a couple of clubs in the winter that we'll probably carry those into the season."

One name that came up a few times during the offseason was catcher Michael Barrett, but Towers said the Padres are more than happy with keeping Barrett as they move forward, and that he likes having what he calls "two No. 1 catchers."

Friars notes: Position players will take physicals Wednesday morning and will take part in their first workout Thursday, which will include taking batting practice off live pitching, something that Black said isn't "one of their favorite days." The implication is pitchers have had a full week head start on hitters, which could lead to some sore hands and probably a few broken bats. ... The high school basketball team Tony Clark helps to coach, Northwest Christian, is playing in the Class 2A state title game Saturday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. Clark has been excused to miss part of the workout that day, though he will likely arrive early to get his work done. ... Outfielder Drew Macias, designated for assignment last week to make room for Clark on the 40-man roster, has cleared waivers and has signed a Minor League contract.

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

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }