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Ross wraps resurgent spring with Padres

Veteran righty awaits decision on rotation spot
March 23, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Tyson Ross made his final case for a spot in the Padres' starting rotation on a back field Friday afternoon. His six solid innings against the Brewers marked the culmination of a revitalizing spring for the veteran right-hander.Coming off a 2016 shoulder injury that resulted in thoracic

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Tyson Ross made his final case for a spot in the Padres' starting rotation on a back field Friday afternoon. His six solid innings against the Brewers marked the culmination of a revitalizing spring for the veteran right-hander.
Coming off a 2016 shoulder injury that resulted in thoracic outlet surgery, Ross struggled mightily last year. He was released by the Rangers in September. All spring, Ross emphasized the importance of having a full offseason's worth of work under his belt.
That work has paid off this spring in the form of a 3.00 ERA over five Cactus League outings in which he limited opposing hitters to .192 average.
"We've seen enough to make whatever assessment we need to make," Padres manager Andy Green said of Ross. "Now it's decision time. We'll watch these guys throw these next couple days, but I think we pretty much understand the body of work."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
The Padres got a bit of a scare Thursday when Ross was hit on the right forearm by a soft line drive. But he shook it off and pitched three innings after that, before going through his usual postgame routine.
Ross is vying for one of two available places at the back end of the Padres' starting five. Also in the mix are righties Luis Perdomo and Christopher Young and lefty Joey Lucchesi. As things stand, Perdomo and Ross appear to be favorites.
Ultimately, the Padres will decide their starting five before Ross' next turn in the rotation. Regardless of that outcome, Ross is expected to remain in Peoria, where he'll pitch a Minors game Wednesday to stay on schedule.
After that, he'll either fly to San Diego to meet the team for its opener against Milwaukee or he'll remain with the Minor League club.
"His fastball command relative to what I had seen in the past, I thought was very good, and his velo is where it has been in the past," Green said, offering his assessment of Ross' overall performance this spring. " ... The slider's as good as it's been, he's throwing cutters quite a bit now, and that's a very effective pitch for him. We feel really good about where he is."
After his last Cactus League start -- four innings of one-hit, one-run ball against the Dodgers on Sunday -- Ross noted, "It's back to like old times -- I'm back out there having fun and feeling good, and executing and pitching well."
The Padres wouldn't mind seeing Ross pitch like "old times," after all. In parts of four seasons in San Diego before his injury, Ross posted a 3.16 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning.
Myers to play both OF corners
When the Padres signed Eric Hosmer at the beginning of Spring Training, they had a clear path in mind for William Myers. The one-time first baseman would be used in both corner-outfield spots during camp. They'd discern where he was most comfortable and station him there for the regular season.
That's not how things played out. The Padres, apparently comfortable with Myers' performances in both left and right field, plan to use him in both corner spots this season.
"Other people don't necessarily feel comfortable in both," said Green. "If he's going to provide us that flexibility, if he's going to feel as comfortable in both and he's going to willingly do it ... then we're going to take advantage of that. There are probably going to be times where we'll see him in left, and we'll see him in right."

Reading between the lines, that could mean Myers will move based on who else is starting in the outfield. Hunter Renfroe made all of his appearances in right last season, while Jose Pirela made 68 of his 71 outfield appearances in left.
Lopez's moonshot boosts roster bid
In the fifth inning of Friday night's 9-7 win over Texas, Padres catcher Raffy Lopez went where few hitters have gone before. His homer off Rangers starter Martin Perez cleared the center-field batter's eye, which stands 40 feet high and 410 feet from home plate.
For Lopez, it was another reminder of what he could offer the Padres in a backup catcher role. His lefty bat would play nicely off the bench -- and as a complement to starter Austin Hedges. He's 7-for-21 with three homers and four walks this spring.

Camp battles
• Sidearming right-hander Adam Cimber added to his dominant spring line with another 1-2-3 inning Friday night. In 10 Cactus League appearances, Cimber has pitched nine scoreless frames with nine strikeouts, allowing just four hits and a walk. Once a bullpen longshot, Cimber has placed himself squarely on the fence for an Opening Day roster spot.
• Hunter Renfroe smashed his sixth homer of the spring, moving him into a tie for the Major League lead. He added a single and was hit by a pitch, bringing his spring OPS to .940. Renfroe is a strong favorite for one of two outfield spots available.

• The Padres optioned right-hander Robert Stock to Minor League camp on Friday, an expected move that makes their crowded bullpen race slightly less crowded. Stock impressed the Padres this spring, with his big-time fastball velocity that topped at around 100 mph. He posted a 5.40 ERA in nine Cactus League appearances.
Injury updates
Franchy Cordero participated in the team's workout on Friday after missing a week with tightness in his groin. Green didn't offer a date for Cordero's return, but noted, "He's getting closer." Cordero, the club's No. 10 prospect, is locked into a tight battle for a backup outfield spot, and Green noted that the injury "definitely affects the decision." He quickly added, "Does that mean it's a no? No, it doesn't mean that."
Up next
Clayton Richard's final tuneup for his first Opening Day start comes Saturday in Goodyear, where the Padres meet the Reds at 1:05 p.m. PT. The 34-year-old left-hander is slated to face the Brewers on Thursday in the season opener, and he'll likely ease things back a bit in his final spring outing.

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