Cahill eager to return to rotation

Padres right-hander was valuable bullpen piece for Cubs

February 16th, 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In two seasons with the Cubs, became a very useful bullpen piece, posting a 2.61 ERA in 61 appearances.

Now, the veteran right-hander is eyeing a return to the rotation, where he spent the first six years of his career. That opportunity is part of the reason he inked a one-year deal with the Padres during the offseason.

"I think I can still start," Cahill said. "This was the best opportunity to do that, and I've heard nothing but great things about [pitching coach Darren] Balsley."

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As he recounted his reasons for signing in San Diego, Cahill -- an Oceanside native who attended Vista High School -- paused a moment.

"That," he continued, "and I grew up a Padres fan. So it just seemed like a natural fit."

In his second big league season, with Oakland in 2010, Cahill earned an All-Star nod and finished ninth in American League Cy Young Award voting. In his first four seasons, Cahill averaged 32 starts and 196 innings -- durability that could prove vital for a Padres rotation filled with question marks.

Cahill is one of the favorites for the fifth starter job. But he'll have a spot in the bullpen if he misses out.

For now, however, manager Andy Green anticipates a seamless transition.

"He [started] long enough, I don't think there's any real challenges in that," Green said. "To him I think it's just literally commanding the strike zone, pitching with the sinker. ... When he's down in the zone, he's very, very effective, and his secondary is really good."

Renfroe preps for center field

arrived at Padres camp Thursday, a day before the full squad reports to the Peoria Sports Complex. The 25-year-old slugger made his mark in right field in September, batting .371 with four homers in 35 at-bats.

Now, he'll have the opportunity to make his mark in center field -- at least during Cactus League play.

Manager Andy Green said Wednesday that the Padres will experiment with Renfroe in the outfield.

"Center field is one of the easier spots to get back used to," said Renfroe, who played there in college and sparingly in the Minor Leagues. "You get to see the ball better and you don't have a wall there to run into like left and right. ... You're the captain out there, so you've got to make sure you know the hitters and talk to your corner guys."

It's highly unlikely Renfroe ever serves as the primary center fielder. But he could be useful there in a backup capacity.

Rotation options

Green says 10 pitchers will compete for the five rotation spots available.

But who, exactly, is that 10th man? We know and are expected to open the year in the rotation. and are strong favorites to join them. After that, Cahill, , , and are in the hunt.

That's nine. Preferring not to create tiers of pitchers, Green wouldn't divulge specifics of the group. But he mentioned , and on Thursday.

"Those names are off the radar," Green said. "Hey, rise up and take it. ... Every one of them should show up expecting to make a big league club. That's how you go about your job."