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McAnulty making most of opportunity

McAnulty making most of opportunity

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Paul McAnulty is making a strong case to make a big league roster this spring. The homegrown Padres outfielder is hitting .333 (11-for-33), with a share of the Cactus League lead with four home runs and sole possession of the league lead with 11 RBIs.

McAnulty hit his fourth round-tripper Tuesday against the White Sox, taking starting pitcher John Danks over the right-field wall to lead off the sixth inning.

"The only thing I'm trying to do is make hard contact," McAnulty said of his standout spring. "Hit the ball hard and let the chips fall where they may. I'm in a pretty good situation, I think, so if [the Padres] don't want to keep me, maybe somebody else can find a use for me. I'm taking each game that I play against a different team as an audition for that team."

McAnulty is fighting for one of the Padres' last roster spots, hoping to make the club as a reserve outfielder and powerful bat off the bench. The fact that Jim Edmonds could well start the season on the disabled list paired with Brian Giles' easing back to full-speed after microfracture knee surgery could help McAnulty's chances of sticking with the club come Opening Day.

One way or the other, he is taking advantage of the opportunity for ample playing time and showcasing the fact that he is back in good health after a slow go in '07. He made an Opening Day roster for the first time in his career last year, was optioned to Triple-A Portland on April 18, recalled on May 26, and optioned back for the remainder of the season on June 15. He missed over a month at Portland when he went on the DL with a right quadriceps strain.

"Last year was a tough row for me," McAnulty said. "I had some injuries.

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It was the first time I've been on the DL in six years. I'm back healthy again, and I'm trying to put that out, that I'm healthy."

McAnulty has amassed 77 homers in parts of six Minor League seasons, and is a career .208 hitter with two homers and eight RBIs in 58 big league games for the Padres. But he seems to have found his groove this spring, and his confidence is well-deserved.

"I'm not trying to do too much," McAnulty said of his approach at the plate this spring. "I've talked to a couple guys. Me and Wally [Joyner, Padres hitting coach] have talked a lot. The only thing you can do is hit it hard. After that, I can't control where it goes or who it goes to. The only thing I can do is adjust the contact point and after that let the chips fall where they may."

The approach has been effective in finding success at the plate, and if the chips fall as well for him in his quest to make a big league roster, he could well be ready for his second consecutive appearance in an Opening Day dugout.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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