PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Christian Bethancourt experiment is going about as smoothly as the Padres could have hoped. Two outings into his transition to a pitcher/catcher hybrid, Bethancourt still hasn't allowed a hit this spring.In the sixth inning of Saturday's 6-5 victory over Arizona, Bethancourt needed only two strikes to
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Christian Bethancourt experiment is going about as smoothly as the Padres could have hoped. Two outings into his transition to a pitcher/catcher hybrid, Bethancourt still hasn't allowed a hit this spring.
In the sixth inning of Saturday's 6-5 victory over Arizona, Bethancourt needed only two strikes to record three outs, as he made quick work of three big league-caliber D-backs hitters.
Chris Iannetta started the frame with a fly ball to left, and David Peralta ended it with a grounder to second. In between, Bethancourt walked A.J. Pollock on four pitches -- but pinch-runner Socrates Brito was promptly caught stealing on a perfect throw to second base by catcher Luis Torrens.
"Actually, I felt better than last time," said Bethancourt, who worked a 1-2-3 inning against the A's on Wednesday. "Somehow I got three outs with two strikes. I guess the job is just to get three outs in an inning, so I've got to be happy with it."
Bethancourt said he "wasn't finishing the pitches" against Pollock, causing him to leave them up in the zone. Constantly behind in the count, he threw nothing but fastballs on Saturday -- two of them sinkers.
"He wasn't as sharp as the last time out," said Padres manager Andy Green. "I thought he was up in the zone. ... Just another outing. He's going to have a few more, and we'll keep moving him in that direction."
On the catching side, San Diego has taken things slowly with Bethancourt. He has yet to appear in a game behind the plate -- though he has served as a designated hitter twice.
Of course, Bethancourt spent his entire career as a catcher until last season -- when he pitched twice in mop-up duty and played 12 games in the outfield. Given his experience, the Padres are confident they'll be able to slide him back in behind the plate without any issues.
Perhaps it was fitting that Bethancourt threw to Torrens on Saturday afternoon. If the experiment works as planned, Bethancourt's versatility could ultimately clear a roster spot for Torrens, a Rule 5 Draft selection.
Bethancourt says he feels no different than he did during his offseason work in Panama, where he officially began his transition to the mound. He says he isn't bothered by facing big league hitters, potentially with his roster spot on the line.
"I just feel like they're humans just like me," Bethancourt said. "I throw the ball, they're going to hit it eventually. ... I shouldn't feel pressure just because I'm facing Major League guys."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.