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Brach eager to build on strong rookie campaign

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There were a lot of things to like about Brad Brach's rookie season in the Padres' bullpen.

Brach threw the sixth-most innings of any rookie reliever in baseball (66 2/3), had the fifth-most strikeouts (75) and posted the third-lowest opponent batting average (.207). He was durable and dependable.

What Brach didn't care much for were the 11 home runs he allowed which was, really, the only blight on what was otherwise a strong season for the 26-year-old right-hander.

"I think sometimes it was pitch selection and just balls elevated in the zone. You've got to keep the ball down and in the park," Brach said.

Only Luke Gregerson (77 games) appeared in more games than Brach (67), who learned a lot about what it takes to be successful in the Major Leagues during his rookie season.

One of the points Brach will carry forward into 2013 is trying to get hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone more.

"Last year in the beginning of the year, I had a little trouble throwing strikes. So they emphasized being in the zone," Brach said. "But I think being in the zone too much can get you in trouble. Sometimes you have got to expand. I think expanding the zone can be a good part of my arsenal."