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Padres adjust schedule to get pitchers ready

Accelerated pace prompts early first live batting practice
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' first full-squad workout won't take place until Monday, only four days before their first Cactus League game. That doesn't exactly leave ample opportunity for pitchers to face hitters ahead of the spring opener. So the club got a head start Saturday.

Although the full contingent of hitters hasn't reported to camp, the Padres held their first live batting practice session of the spring, with Miguel Diaz, Buddy Baumann and Kyle Lloyd among the hurlers to take the mound.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' first full-squad workout won't take place until Monday, only four days before their first Cactus League game. That doesn't exactly leave ample opportunity for pitchers to face hitters ahead of the spring opener. So the club got a head start Saturday.

Although the full contingent of hitters hasn't reported to camp, the Padres held their first live batting practice session of the spring, with Miguel Diaz, Buddy Baumann and Kyle Lloyd among the hurlers to take the mound.

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"Either they only face hitters one time before games or you accelerate the timeline," said Padres manager Andy Green. "All these guys that are throwing today have been throwing bullpens all offseason. They all came in with the knowledge they were going to have a live BP really quickly. So to them, they're not getting ambushed."

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Padres pitchers are currently on a progression where they take the mound once every three days. Reading between the lines, the same hurlers who pitched Saturday should also pitch when the Padres face the Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex on Friday.

"This is me tipping my hand as to who's pitching in the first game," Green acknowledged, though he wouldn't confirm a starter.

Perhaps understandably, the pitchers got the better of things on the first day, with most of the hitters having only recently arrived in camp. Diaz, in particular, drew positive reviews from the Padres' staff. The 23-year-old fireballer spent last season mostly in the bullpen. This year, he's entering camp as a starter.

Tweet from @Padres: First Live BP of #PadresST ��� pic.twitter.com/2vcxkM4wBy

Judging by Saturday's schedule, Diaz is one of three options to start Friday's opener, along with Lloyd and Brett Kennedy. All three are likely to start the year in the Minors.

Makita throws first bullpen

Kazuhisa Makita threw his much-anticipated first bullpen session of camp Saturday, before quite the audience of teammates, media and front-office personnel. The submarine-style right-hander didn't disappoint.

Tweet from @Padres: Kazuhisa Makita's delivery in slow motion is something else! 😱 #PadresST pic.twitter.com/ZKgtjo8DIM

Makita, who signed a two-year deal with the Padres in January, throws six pitches, including a screwball and a slow curve. He put most of that arsenal on full display.

"He's doing some things with the baseball that I've never seen before," said Padres catcher Austin Hedges.

Erlin, Rea on track

The Padres will take things slowly with Colin Rea and Robbie Erlin this spring, but both threw bullpen sessions Friday, as they continue to recover from Tommy John surgery. They're among 10 candidates for five rotation places.

"Both of those guys, we like where they are right now," said Green. "And we like that they're heading back to pitching for us on, hopefully, a consistent basis. They're in the hunt for rotation spots right now."

Wick adds to bullpen mix

Newly acquired reliever Rowan Wick arrived in Arizona on Saturday afternoon, and he'll take part in his first workout with the Padres on Sunday. The 25-year-old right-hander was acquired off waivers from St. Louis.

The Padres had interest in Wick as a Rule 5 Draft pick last year, but the Cardinals protected him. (They left Allen Cordoba unprotected, however, and San Diego scooped him up instead.)

Wick was drafted as a catcher, converted to an outfielder, then transitioned to the mound ahead of the 2016 season. The Padres feel he could flourish with a bit more seasoning.

"It's a live arm," Green said. "He can spin the curveball and throw a tight little slider. It's just a matter of getting this guy innings."

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

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