Capps, Villanueva among players out of options

Padres have tough depth decisions to make; Lyles now in mix for 'pen

March 16th, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The roster battles in Padres camp this spring have undoubtedly taken a bit of a different feel for , and .
For the majority of the club, missing out on the Opening Day roster means being sent to the Minors when camp ends. It's not as simple for five Padres who are out of options and would be subject to waivers if they don't make the team.
and have already secured their places on the pitching staff. But Villanueva, Capps and Szczur aren't roster locks. All three face differing circumstances in the coming weeks.
Villanueva is likeliest to make the club. Entering camp, the Padres seemed determined to keep him, and he's reinforced their belief with his performance this spring. He's batting .344 with three homers.
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The biggest hint the Padres want to keep Villanueva around: They're unlikely to carry a backup shortstop. That leaves an extra place open in the infield. (Villanueva, himself, would serve as shortstop in case of an emergency. He started there on Friday.)
"I want to play wherever I can help the team," Villanueva said. "That's first and foremost."
Capps is a different case entirely. He's one of about six relievers vying for the final place or two in the Padres' bullpen. But he's also coming off surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome. He appears to have fully recovered, but if the effects of the surgery were to slow him at all, he could open the year on the disabled list.

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As for Szczur, it's hard to see the roster math lining up in his favor. , and are locks in the outfield. is a strong favorite. That leaves Szczur, and fighting for one spot. In that case, either Jankowski or Cordero might make more sense as left-handed hitting complements. Both are better suited to serve as defensive or pinch-running replacements, too.
Szczur has been here before -- last year, in fact. His option years ran out in 2016, and he made the Cubs' Opening Day roster in '17, but he was designated in May, prompting the Padres and Cubs to strike a deal for him. Now, Szczur could be facing the same fate in San Diego.
It's worth noting that the Padres have a similar roster crunch with right-hander , who signed a Major League deal and can't be sent to the Minors without consenting. That also holds true for , who was brought to camp as a non-roster invitee but is protected with an opt-out clause should he not make the roster. , meanwhile, could be sent to the Minors without repercussion.
Perdomo finds a groove
Before Spring Training began, right-hander was given a "leg up" in the rotation race by Padres manager Andy Green. After he was roughed up by the Giants in his last start, Perdomo needed to rebound Friday against Kansas City to maintain that place. He delivered.
In the Padres' 12-4 Cactus League loss to the Royals, Perdomo was sharp for 4 2/3 frames, allowing four hits while striking out four. He surrendered two first-inning runs, but posted zeroes the rest of the way.
"What I do is I have to work," Perdomo said. "I have to compete. I always have to compete to get a spot in the rotation. … Ultimately, they're going to make the decision."
Given Perdomo's performance the past two seasons and his potential role in the club's future, it appears he's still a favorite for one of the two available rotation places.
Camp battles
• Lyles has been informed that he's no longer a part of the Padres' rotation race, and he'll be moved to the bullpen to compete for a spot there. It's unclear what role Lyles will fill in the 'pen. He pitched 33 games in relief last season for Colorado, before he was released and signed with the Padres in August as a starter.

Lyles has struggled this spring, posting a 12.38 ERA in four outings. But he signed a guaranteed Major League deal with San Diego this offseason, and it seems likely he makes the club in some capacity.
• Young, who is in contention for a starting job, was roughed up for eight runs over 2 1/3 relief innings on Friday. It's a particularly ugly blemish on an otherwise solid spring for the veteran right-hander. Like Lyles, Young could also win a spot in the bullpen if he were to miss out on the rotation.
Injury updates
• Cordero experienced tightness in his groin and is day to day, Green said. It's unclear how much time Cordero will miss, but the injury could throw a wrench into his roster chances if it lingers.
• Left-hander had experienced minor elbow soreness earlier in camp, but he threw a bullpen session Friday and felt no effects of the injury.