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Lauer nearly perfect in outing vs. Brewers

@AJCassavell
March 15, 2019

PHOENIX -- It'd been 15 days since Eric Lauer last appeared in a Cactus League game. "Been a while," Lauer quipped Friday afternoon after facing the Brewers. "Too long." Sure didn't look like it.

PHOENIX -- It'd been 15 days since Eric Lauer last appeared in a Cactus League game.

"Been a while," Lauer quipped Friday afternoon after facing the Brewers. "Too long."

Sure didn't look like it.

Lauer dominated Milwaukee over four near-perfect innings, though the Padres fell, 6-2, in Maryvale, Ariz. The 23-year-old left-hander struck out six, and he allowed just one baserunner, a hit batter in the eighth.

If Lauer didn’t appear to be shaking off any rust, well, that's because he wasn't. The Padres have been content to let Lauer throw in back-field games this spring, while some of their top prospects were given a chance to start games in his place.

Lauer was just fine with that. It allowed him the opportunity to hone his new-and-improved slider. Plus, he liked the real-time adjustments he was able to make with the immediate aid of the Padres' coaching staff.

"It's been different," Lauer said. "It's not as easy to get the adrenaline rush that you get in this kind of atmosphere. But [manager] Andy [Green] told us from Day One that we were going to take the back-field games super seriously this year. You compete no matter where you’re at."

Lauer’s line might have been different if he'd pitched the first four innings, rather than the next four. The Brewers removed most of their starters after the fifth, and Lauer faced a steady dose of Minor Leaguers (though he fanned Mike Moustakas and got Yasmani Grandal to pop up to the catcher in the fifth).

Lauer will presumably be given two traditional starts in exhibition games before the regular season begins. After a promising rookie year, he entered camp as a strong rotation favorite, and his back-field outings (and his 0.00 Cactus League ERA) have only solidified that fact.

"We liked what we've seen from him all spring," said Green. "We know we haven't shown it to you guys. But he's thrown his secondary for strikes when he's wanted to. He's spun the curveball well, and the fastball has beaten guys."

Covering the bases

First: Lefty Matt Strahm made his first start of the spring, and he endured his first shaky outing. Strahm allowed five runs over three innings, though he was clearly the victim of some hard luck. The first three runs scored only after Josh Naylor botched two fly balls in left field, and the last two runs scored after Strahm had been removed. The 27-year-old lefty allowed five hits and three walks while striking out three.

Second: Infield prospect Hudson Potts continued his torrid spring in a "B" game against the White Sox. He swatted a long home run to left field on an 0-2 pitch. The 20-year-old Potts has been one of the most impressive youngsters in Padres camp, and his power has drawn rave reviews.

Third: Lefty Joey Lucchesi pitched four innings against the White Sox in that "B" game -- he allowed one run, four hits, two walks and struck out seven.

Home: Fernando Tatis Jr. went 0-for-3 against the Brewers, and he's in an 0-for-7 drought since returning from a few days off after having his wisdom teeth removed.

Up next

For the final time this spring, the Padres will split their squad on Saturday. Two of their rotation candidates -- both top 12 -- will take the mound. Righty Cal Quantrill heads to Scottsdale where the Padres face the Giants at 12:05 p.m. PT. Lefty Logan Allen starts at home against the Royals at 12:10.

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