PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's no obvious favorite for the starting third-base job in San Diego this season. That's because there isn't currently an obvious everyday third baseman on the Padres' roster.Half a dozen infielders are set to vie for the third-base job this spring, but all of them feature prominent
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's no obvious favorite for the starting third-base job in San Diego this season. That's because there isn't currently an obvious everyday third baseman on the Padres' roster.
Half a dozen infielders are set to vie for the third-base job this spring, but all of them feature prominent question marks. The possibility of a major free-agent acquisition looms, as the Padres have been linked with Manny Machado and Mike Moustakas in recent weeks.
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For now, San Diego will proceed with the current group in Peoria, a jumble of Minor League projects and Major League utilitymen.
"It's probably wide open," Padres manager Andy Green said. "We're going to look at a lot of possibilities. It would be wrong to categorize anybody as a front-runner. Nobody's really earned that opportunity."
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There might not be a "front-runner," but every list needs a name at the front. For the Padres, that appears to be Ty France, the only everyday third baseman on the 40-man roster.
France, who batted .267/.355/.464 with 22 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last season, was added to the club ahead of the November deadline to protect Minor Leaguers from the Rule 5 Draft.
France will presumably compete for playing time with utilitymen Greg Garcia, Jose Pirela and Ian Kinsler, who are already on the roster. Kinsler's expected to open the season at second base, and none of those three have regular experience at third. Minor Leaguers Jason Vosler, Seth Mejias-Brean and Esteban Quiroz are also in the mix.
Like France, none of those three has recorded a Major League at-bat, yet they're all squarely in the running.
"Obviously, it's in the back of my mind, but I'm trying not to make too much of it," France said of the spring competition. "If I just go out there and play my game, I'll let the rest take care of itself and leave myself in a good position to win it."
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As for the looming specter of a mid-camp acquisition, which would render the current competition moot, France said, "Whatever happens, happens. I can't control that. They're going to do what's best for the team and the organization. I'm just going out there to handle my business."
Rain a factor in Padres' workout
Nothing was going to dampen the vibe as Padres pitchers and catchers worked out formally for the first time this spring.
Well, nothing except the rain.
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Gloomy weather forced the Friars to cancel a chunk of their Thursday workout, including the first round of pitcher's fielding practice.
But a handful of pitchers threw bullpen sessions nonetheless, highlighted by relievers Craig Stammen and José Castillo and highly touted right-handed prospect Chris Paddack, who is in big league camp for the first time.
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Ellis joins Friars staff in Peoria
Longtime catcher A.J. Ellis joined the Padres as a special assistant last week, and Green mapped out Ellis' role a bit more clearly on Thursday.
Ellis will be in and out of camp, assisting with the team's catchers, and that role will carry into the big league clubhouse during the regular season. Of course, new bench coach Rod Barajas and catching coordinator Ryley Westman will take the initiative with the backstops.
"It's great to have [Ellis] here, too," Green said. "All these players really appreciated who he was and responded well to him. ... A.J.'s just another great set of helping hands and good eyes."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.