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Pirela leading Zulia toward Venezuela title

Bethancourt has 2.25 ERA in Panama
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The number of Padres still playing winter ball is down to five.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The number of Padres still playing winter ball is down to five.

Catcher-pitcher-outfielder Christian Bethancourt continues to play in Panama, left fielder Jose Pirela is playing with Zulia in the championship series of the Venezuelan Winter League and second baseman River Stevens, catcher Marcus Greene Jr. and right-handed pitcher Zech Lemond are actually "summering" in Australia.

Pirela, 27, was 6-for-12 with a double, a triple, two walks, six runs scored and three RBIs in the first three games of the Venezuela championship series to help Zulia take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with the third game suspended with the score tied in the ninth. If Zulia wins the Venezuelan title, Pirela will play in the Caribbean World Series from Feb. 1-7.

Pirela is hitting .340 (16-for-47) during the Venezuelan playoffs with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored while hitting third and fifth for Zulia. He has a .391 on-base percentage in the playoffs with a .595 slugging percentage for a .987 OPS. He hit .343 during the regular season with nine doubles, two triples and two homers for 16 RBIs and 29 runs scored.    

Bethancourt, 25, who will be seeking to make the Padres at three positions in Spring Training, gave up a run in his fourth relief appearance for Cocle in Panama while raising his batting average to .171. He has been appearing as a closer and playing in left field. He is not catching in Panama.   

At the plate, Bethancourt is 7-for-41 with a double. As a pitcher, Bethancourt has given up a run on four hits with two strikeouts in four innings.   

Stevens, 25, ranks 11th with a .313 going into the final week of the Australian League season. He is 30-for-98 with seven doubles, a triple and a homer for 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored in 24 games.

Greene, 22, is hitting .302 (39-for-129) with two doubles, six home runs, 25 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 35 games. He ranks third in RBIs in the ABL and tied for third in homers. 

Lemond, 24, has a 1.06 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP over 17 innings in 14 relief appearances for Canberra in the ABL. He has allowed 10 hits (a .175 opponents' batting average) and seven walks with 16 strikeouts. He has two saves and three holds.

The Australian season ends next weekend.

San Diego Padres