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Busy Asuaje continues education with Padres

Green notices team leadership; Rodney throws second bullpen session
MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Carlos Asuaje hardly had an offseason and he's perfectly OK with that.

Typically, Asuaje takes a couple of weeks off after the regular season, but this year there was no time. After playing in a career-high 131 games at Double-A last season, Asuaje went to the Arizona Fall League -- during which he was traded from the Red Sox to the Padres -- where he played another 18 games.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Carlos Asuaje hardly had an offseason and he's perfectly OK with that.

Typically, Asuaje takes a couple of weeks off after the regular season, but this year there was no time. After playing in a career-high 131 games at Double-A last season, Asuaje went to the Arizona Fall League -- during which he was traded from the Red Sox to the Padres -- where he played another 18 games.

Asuaje's final game was Nov. 21. In December, he started hitting and lifting weights. The winter was busy, but for a prospect learning what it takes to reach the Major Leagues, the experiences were invaluable.

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After playing with elite prospects in Arizona, Asuaje, the Padres' 17th-ranked prospect, now finds himself in Major League camp as a non-roster invitee.

"Just seeing yourself play with these guys every day that are such great athletes and such great baseball players, it definitely makes you want to step up your game and work harder to get to that next level," Asuaje said. "It shines a light on just how good the big leagues actually are."

The newly acquired infielder has played all over the diamond since he was drafted, logging innings at shortstop, third base, second base and left field.

"I would say I feel most comfortable at second base," Asuaje said. "But I'm the kind of guy that I'll take a liking to wherever I'm put. As long as I'm in the lineup, I'll get the job done."

• It's still early in spring and a lot has yet to be determined, but Padres manager Andy Green has already seen some positive trends develop.

"Leadership, I've been very pleased with the way guys are taking ownership of this team," Green said. "Outfielders are rising up. Jon Jay has [Manuel] Margot in the morning running through drills, [Matt] Kemp has Jabari Blash under his wing, a lot of guys are taking ownership. [Melvin Upton Jr.'s] got Travis Jankowski everywhere. We've got guys sitting down at tables; typically you don't see veteran guys sitting down with rookie, Latin guys and we've got that everywhere. It's a great mix."

• After a disappointing 2015 season, the Padres are hoping Fernando Rodney can turn it around in 2016. The right-hander, recovering from a mild hamstring strain suffered in the Caribbean Series, threw his second bullpen session of the spring Monday.

"Down in the [Dominican Republic] he was in the upper 90s again," Green said. "His changeup looked effective, as it always has. I think it's just a matter of him reclaiming that form."

After being named an American League All-Star and saving 48 games in 2014, Rodney saved just 16 games and posted a 4.74 ERA in 68 games last season.

"I don't think there's anything mechanically he needs to adjust, he hasn't lost any stuff," Green said. "It's still all right there and the hope is that young 38-year-old body he's got right now rebounds nicely and he solidifies that back end for us."

• The Padres held a competition day Monday with a focus on situational hitting. Upton, Kemp, Jay and Derek Norris were the team captains and drafted players.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

San Diego Padres, Carlos Asuaje