Hinshaw forcing Padres to make tough call

Hinshaw forcing Padres to make tough call

Hinshaw forcing Padres to make tough call
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Twice this week, Padres manager Bud Black has referred to a specific set of pitches that Alex Hinshaw made in a game this month, which is a good sign for the left-hander, who is in camp on a Minor League contract as a non-roster invitee.

"I just want to make a good impression so they know I'm here," Hinshaw said.

The Padres have noticed, starting with the three filthy sliders Hinshaw fired past Josh Hamilton of the Rangers in a game on March 7 -- three sliders that the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player essentially had no shot at hitting.

"That was definitely a cool moment for me," Hinshaw said. "He's an MVP-type player, a guy you watch on television. It was one of those days where I had a good feel for that pitch. I'm just happy that Buddy remembered it."

Forget trying to make an impression, we're at the point in camp where Hinshaw has his sights set on a bigger achievement -- making the 25-man Opening Day roster.

"Good arm. There's some velocity in the fastball. He's got a hard cutter, slider, breaking ball. It's a solid left-handed arm with a good arm stroke," Black said. "His challenge is to get his stuff more consistently in the zone. The inconsistency of the strike can get a team or a pitcher in trouble."

Hinshaw allowed one earned run in Thursday's loss to the Indians, sending his ERA from 2.84 to 4.05 in eight appearances this spring. However, Hinshaw has been unscored upon in six of those appearances. He has seven strikeouts and four hits allowed in 6 2/3 innings.

"I like the velocity and that he can get up to 94 mph, maybe higher," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said. "He's got a short, compact delivery and a quick arm.

"And the good thing is he's forcing us to make a decision."

Hinshaw spent the first few weeks in camp taking in all he could from Black, Balsley and bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds. He's spent the last few weeks, after games started, impressing Black, Balsley and Akerfelds.

"I've come in with an open mind and tried to soak it all in," Hinshaw said. "And the results are sort of a byproduct of the hard work. Thankfully, it's been working out for me so far. Hopefully, I'll make a good impression and see what happens."

Hinshaw, who has a 4.53 ERA in 57 games over two seasons with the Giants (2008-09), has streamlined his delivery since his days in San Francisco. What was once considered a violent delivery now appears much calmer.

The Padres believe that his stuff will hold up well against left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters, a point that could work in his favor when it comes time to set the 25-man roster.

"It's a combination of what [Balsley, Black and Akerfelds] have been helping me with," Hinshaw said. "It's keeping my head back, keeping everything on a straight line toward home plate.

"It's kind of an oxymoron, but it's being controllably insane, if that makes sense. To be aggressive at the end of my delivery instead of being aggressive from the time I get my sign through my delivery."

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