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Lyles brings reliever's mentality to starting role

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Jordan Lyles wasn't thrilled in mid-March when he learned he would open the season in the bullpen. It may have been a blessing in disguise.

"At the time I wouldn't have thought that," Lyles said. "But everything has worked itself out, and I'm happy to be in the position I am."

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SAN DIEGO -- Jordan Lyles wasn't thrilled in mid-March when he learned he would open the season in the bullpen. It may have been a blessing in disguise.

"At the time I wouldn't have thought that," Lyles said. "But everything has worked itself out, and I'm happy to be in the position I am."

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Lyles is slated for his first start of the season Thursday in the series opener against the Cardinals, taking the place of right-hander Bryan Mitchell. He's a notably different pitcher than he was during last season's stint in the rotation, and he says his move to the bullpen is to credit for that.

"One thing it taught me was being on the attack a little bit more," Lyles said. "Sometimes as a starter you slow things down, process everything, go over previous at-bats. I definitely want to take the mentality of getting after it a little bit more and being on the attack."

Lyles has seen a noticeable uptick in velocity with every one of his pitches since his move to the bullpen. His fastball has averaged 94.5 mph this season, up 1.5 from last year. His 84 mph curveball is the third-highest average velo in baseball.

It's worth wondering whether Lyles can maintain that success as a starter, given that his velocity figures to dip with more innings to eat. The Padres are optimistic that the strides he made in the 'pen will carry over into the rotation.

"Starters have the mentality to get through six or seven innings; that's ingrained in them," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Relief pitchers think, 'I've just got to get this next guy out.' So they go after him with everything they have. That's what we want him to take to the rotation -- that same type of mentality."

Picciolo, Towers honored with patch

The Padres will don patches honoring Rob Picciolo and Kevin Towers on their throwback uniforms Saturday, as they commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the 1998 National League pennant-winning squad.

Towers, the club's general manager from 1995-2009, passed away from thyroid cancer on Jan. 30. Picciolo, the longest-tenured coach in Padres history, suffered a heart attack Jan. 3.

The patch will feature the initials of both men, and the Padres will continue to wear it for five more games this season -- all Wednesday games when they don their 1998 throwback uniforms.

Yates raises money for Hawaii flood relief

Padres right-hander Kirby Yates has created a fundraiser to support flood relief in his hometown with the goal of raising $10,000 toward the Hawaii Community foundation.

Yates, the Padres' setup man, grew up in Koloa, Hawaii, on the south side of Kauai. The town was not issued a flood warning last month, when record rainfall arrived, resulting in severe damage to homes and loss of countless personal belongings.

Yates has pledged to match the efforts up to $5,000, and donations can be submitted at youcaring.com/koloa.

"It's a small town," Yates said. "Everybody on the south side knows each other, I grew up there, went to Koloa elementary school, learned to play baseball there. A lot of these families ... I went to school with, I played baseball with, I'm just trying to help out, hopefully help them back on the right side of their feet."

Padres announce honorary bat girl

Major League Baseball announced its honorary bat girls for Mother's Day, naming Sandra Lopez as the Padres' representative. Lopez, a mother of three, was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, then rediagnosed in 2012 after having earned a clean bill of health and being in remission.

The Padres will honor Lopez during a pregame ceremony Sunday, where she will be joined by 100 other survivors on the baselines at Petco Park.

For Mother's Day, all players will wear newly designed caps with uniforms featuring a pink ribbon. Louisville Slugger will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer, and MLB will again donate its licensed uniform royalties through Mother's Day apparel to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Jordan Lyles