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Notes: NRI options to watch; Lucchesi labors

@AJCassavell
March 7, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two non-roster invitees provided the spark in the Padres' ninth-inning rally on Friday night. With two outs and San Diego trailing by a run, Juan Lagares tied the score with a single, then Esteban Quiroz lined a walk-off single into the left-field corner. The Padres brought 32

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two non-roster invitees provided the spark in the Padres' ninth-inning rally on Friday night. With two outs and San Diego trailing by a run, Juan Lagares tied the score with a single, then Esteban Quiroz lined a walk-off single into the left-field corner.

The Padres brought 32 non-roster players to Spring Training this year, and all 32 remain in big league camp. That's likely to change early next week when Minor League camp begins.

On the surface, it appears as though the Padres have three primary non-roster candidates to make the big league club:

Brian Dozier is an obvious fit for a roster spot, and he could still win the starting job at second base.

• Lagares is looking to win a job as the backup in center field. The Padres could use a strong defender with decent splits against left-handed pitching -- though Lagares has mostly struggled at the plate this spring.

Abraham Almonte is vying for the same fifth outfield spot. He's a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield spots (though his defense isn’t quite at Lagares’ level, and the Padres wouldn't keep both).

After those three, the roster math gets tricky. The Padres have a full 40-man roster, and they don't currently have any 60-day injured list candidates. It already seems likely they'll clear room for Dozier at the end of camp -- and possibly one of those two center fielders as well. That would prompt two corresponding moves.

Then again, there's always room for a breakout. Quiroz is among four or five non-roster candidates who could still stake their claims as utility options.

"Any time you're in big league camp, it's the best talent in baseball," Quiroz said. "I just try to focus on me, try to focus on what I have going on and try to make the most out of it."

It's tougher on the pitching side of things, where the Padres' rotation and bullpen are mostly set. But Craig Stammen and Adam Cimber are recent examples of non-roster relievers who pitched their way into the bullpen with excellent showings during Spring Training.

Kyle Barraclough, Chih-Wei Hu and Steven Wilson have yet to allow a run, and Jimmy Yacabonis has also impressed with 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball and six strikeouts.

Lucchesi roughed up
Left-hander Joey Lucchesi was the clear favorite for the No. 5 spot in the Padres’ rotation at the start of camp. He’s still the favorite -- but things might begin to get interesting down the stretch.

Lucchesi was roughed up by the D-backs on Saturday afternoon, allowing four runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Most troubling were the four walks Lucchesi issued to the eight batters he faced.

As things stand, Lucchesi and right-hander Cal Quantrill are battling for the last available place in the Padres’ rotation. Quantrill had missed a week with the flu, but he returned on Thursday with two scoreless frames and has allowed just one run in four innings while striking out six.

Ailing arms
Right-handers Trey Wingenter and Ronald Bolaños have yet to pitch this spring as they battle nagging injuries. Manager Jayce Tingler indicated that Bolaños (rib soreness) is closer to a return than Wingenter (shoulder inflammation).

"Bolaños probably has a chance to get out there a little bit before Wing," Tingler said. "Wing got a small injection and has been working on strength stuff."

Both were unlikely to crack the Opening Day roster anyway. Tingler indicated that Bolaños might return to the mound for game action next week, and he should still have enough time to be built up for the start of the Minor League season.

Wingenter, on the other hand, seems likely to open the year on the injured list. He has posted a 5.14 ERA (but a 3.78 FIP) over two seasons in the Padres' bullpen.

Up next
If all goes according to plan, Sunday's game against the White Sox might offer a major glimpse at the Padres' Opening Day pitching staff. Chris Paddack gets the start, and he'll be followed by the team's two primary relief weapons, Kirby Yates and Emilio Pagán. Roster favorites Pierce Johnson and Javy Guerra are also scheduled to throw. First pitch at Peoria Stadium is slated for 1:10 p.m. PT.

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