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Ross, Young trying to rejuvenate careers

Former Padres All-Stars make appearances in Saturday's game
MLB.com @AJCassavell

MESA, Ariz. -- Once upon a time, Chris Young and Tyson Ross were All-Stars in San Diego, anchors in the Padres' rotation across multiple seasons.

That time has come and gone. On Saturday, Ross took the hill for two innings in an 8-3 Cactus League defeat against Oakland. Young followed with two innings of his own. Both looked sharp, for the most part. But both have work to do this spring if they're to earn a place in the Opening Day rotation.

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MESA, Ariz. -- Once upon a time, Chris Young and Tyson Ross were All-Stars in San Diego, anchors in the Padres' rotation across multiple seasons.

That time has come and gone. On Saturday, Ross took the hill for two innings in an 8-3 Cactus League defeat against Oakland. Young followed with two innings of his own. Both looked sharp, for the most part. But both have work to do this spring if they're to earn a place in the Opening Day rotation.

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The roster math isn't favorable for either of them. Three rotation places are up for grabs, and Dinelson Lamet and Luis Perdomo have the early edge for two of those spots. That could leave six pitchers fighting for one job.

"Today was a great start for both of them," said Padres manager Andy Green. "They're definitely squarely in the mix."

Padres Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Neither Ross nor Young is concerned about that race just yet. Both are shaking off some rust. Young was released by the Royals in June, and Ross suffered the same fate with Texas in September.

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Young worked two scoreless frames on Saturday, surrendering only a walk. Ross, meanwhile, ran into some trouble, allowing two runs on three hits. But he struck out four.

The 30-year-old Ross last pitched for San Diego on Opening Day 2016. He was knocked around by the Dodgers and placed on the disabled list a few days later with a shoulder strain. He wouldn't pitch again that season, before undergoing October surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

It was a bit of a hurried recovery for Ross, who slumped to a 7.71 ERA in 12 appearances for Texas in 2017. He's convinced things are different this year.

Video: TEX@CLE: Ross tosses six solid frames

"I'm prepared this spring," said Ross. "I had a nice long offseason to do the strength training I needed, get the throwing in. I'm in a good spot physically. Last year, I felt like I was playing catch-up the whole time."

If anyone knows what vintage Tyson Ross looks like, it's the man who caught him Saturday. Former Dodger A.J. Ellis mustered just two singles in 14 at-bats, while striking out eight times against Ross.

"Tyson was always my nemesis," Ellis said. "It seemed like I guessed wrong every time, because his fastball and slider look so much the same to me. It's nice to be able to put a finger down and know what's coming. ... I don't notice too much of a difference. I just know the ball is coming out really well."

Like Ross, Young is fighting to find his old form. He, too, hasn't been particularly effective over the past two years. At 38, however, Young faces somewhat longer odds.

He looked up to the challenge on Day 1. Young's calling card has always been his ability to induce weak contact on pitches up in the zone. He recorded four easy fly-ball outs Saturday.

"I'm competing against myself," Young said. "My goal is to be the best I can be. I don't worry about stuff externally. If I go out and pitch like I have when I've been good in my career, I feel like I should be a big league pitcher."

Ross feels the same way. Surely, Matt Strahm, Colin Rea, Robbie Erlin and Jordan Lyles do, too. Realistically, however, only one or two places are available for them.

"It's a long list of guys," Green said. "It's going to be a good battle. ... Last spot I'd say is absolutely wide open."

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

San Diego Padres, Tyson Ross, Chris Young

Different approaches for prospect bats, arms

Young Padres hitters will take it fast, while young arms will take it slow; Cordero homers; submariner Makita nearing debut
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With one of the Majors' youngest spring rosters, the Padres will take a different tack preparing their pitchers and their hitters over the next month.

Offensively, they've thrust their youngsters straight into the fire. A handful of top hitting prospects have taken center stage through two games, with regulars being eased along slowly.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- With one of the Majors' youngest spring rosters, the Padres will take a different tack preparing their pitchers and their hitters over the next month.

Offensively, they've thrust their youngsters straight into the fire. A handful of top hitting prospects have taken center stage through two games, with regulars being eased along slowly.

View Full Game Coverage

On the mound, however, the Padres are going to take things slower with the quartet of top prospects they've invited to camp. Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Jacob Nix comprised an impressive Double-A rotation last season, and all four have a chance to debut later this year.

"We're looking at their season long term, not necessarily looking at how many Cactus League innings we can get them," said Padres manager Andy Green. "The expectation is, if they throw the ball the way we think they can, that some, if not all, of them will be pitching for us at the end of the year. That means the longest year they've ever had. Extending them to get them into Feb. 24-25 games doesn't make any sense."

Padres Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Prospects combined for four of San Diego's six hits in Friday's opener, including Fernando Tatis' opposite-field homer and Luis Urias' double off the wall. Josh Naylor and Javier Guerra also got in on the action with a pair of singles.

In Saturday's 8-3 loss to Oakland, however, Tatis whiffed three times in three at-bats, while Guerra and Urias botched a sixth-inning double-play ball. It won't be the last time growing pains are on display this month.

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The Padres are also making a point to bring Minor Leaguers into big league camp for a glimpse into the inner workings. Friday, it was Potts. Saturday, 17-year-olds Gabriel Arias and Justin Lopez got a taste of the action.

"We're trying to build a culture where you build continuity," said Green. "The way you have that is if Chase Headley has Hudson Potts standing next to him -- because maybe Hudson Potts is our third baseman in a few years. That said, he's got a long way to go. So does Gabe Arias. ... But they're incredibly talented young baseball players."

Arias even got some game action, striking out twice, but making an excellent pick at third base before unleashing a rocket across the diamond.

Tweet from @Padres: 17-year-olds Gabriel Arias and Justin Lopez getting some infield reps 👐 #PadresST | #PadresOnDeck pic.twitter.com/uxOJ2D9ldq

Cordero goes yard

This offseason, Franchy Cordero was named MVP of the Dominican Winter League. On Saturday, he picked up where he left off. In his first at-bat of the spring, Cordero smashed a missile down the right-field line that stayed just inside the foul pole.

Cordero is squarely in the mix for a spot in the Padres outfield, where he could back up at all three spots. He'll need to lower his strikeout rate, but he brings speed, defense and plenty of pop.

"That's impressive athletic ability," Green said. "He flies around the field and he's got easy power."

Makita nearing debut

Right-hander Kazuhisa Makita is slated to throw one more live batting practice session before he makes his first appearance in a Padres uniform -- potentially on March 1 against Texas. Don't be surprised if he's held back after that.

The Padres are committed to keeping Makita out of game action against National League West opposition. Even by sidearming standards, his delivery is unique. He comes inches from scraping the dirt with his knuckles, and he peppers all parts of the strike zone with his six-pitch arsenal.

It's a look few hitters in the Majors have seen before (as evidenced by the spirited reactions to his live BP session Friday). And the Padres will do everything they can to maximize that deceptiveness.

Tweet from @Padres: The reactions at Maki���s first live BP at #PadresST say it all 🤯 pic.twitter.com/HmvUg3V2lI

Outfielders ailing

Matt Szczur and Alex Dickerson have been limited, as they battle through injuries early in camp. Szczur is having oblique trouble, while Dickerson has a balky elbow, and both are day to day.

Dickerson's ailment is unrelated to the back injury that cost him the entirety of his 2017 season. Coming off surgery, Dickerson was always going to be eased back into action, and the Padres noted he isn't going to receive everyday playing time this season anyway.

Both Dickerson and Szczur are in the mix for a backup role in the outfield. Meanwhile, shortstop Allen Cordoba is nearing a return to action after being sidelined with a concussion during the first week.

Up next

Bryan Mitchell spent his first eight professional seasons in the Yankees organization. He made his Majors debut in 2014, but played only sporadically, limited by injuries and inconsistency. In New York, there simply weren't enough innings to go around.

There's plenty of opportunity in the San Diego rotation, and the Padres have committed to Mitchell as a piece of their future. He'll make his first start for his new organization on Sunday when the Padres head to Tempe to face the Angels. First pitch is slated for 12:10 p.m. PT.

"This is pretty much what I've been trying to get to for the last three or four years," Mitchell said of his starting role. "I've kind of been stuck in that back-and-forth spot. This is exactly what I need, and I'm so honored they were able to give me the chance."

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

San Diego Padres

Cordero among top prospect performers

MLB.com

It's good to see familiar faces return to the field after a long, slow offseason. But it's thrilling to watch top prospects show intensity this early in the spring.

On the second full day of Spring Training, all eyes were on two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, in his pitching debut against the Brewers. The much-anticipated outing featured electric talent and potential for growth.

It's good to see familiar faces return to the field after a long, slow offseason. But it's thrilling to watch top prospects show intensity this early in the spring.

On the second full day of Spring Training, all eyes were on two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, the No. 1 overall prospect in baseball, in his pitching debut against the Brewers. The much-anticipated outing featured electric talent and potential for growth.

Top prospects from the Rockies are also coming out of the gate fiery hot, with five players combining for nine hits and five RBIs in the process. Cardinals prospects showed skill with the leather, including a diving catch by Harrison Bader as he fought the Florida sun for the out.

Video: STL@NYM: Bader runs down a soft fly ball

Without further ado, here's a first-look at how some of the game's biggest prospect names performed on Saturday:

• Ohtani gave up two runs (one earned) and struck out two batters over 1 1/3 innings in his Cactus League debut against Milwaukee. He was stung when Keon Broxton took him deep on a leadoff home run in the second inning, one of two hits Ohtani gave up through 31 pitches on Saturday. But the 23-year-old Japanese phenom showed a deep arsenal, topping out on a 97 mph fastball and notching a strikeout on a 69-mph curveball. Despite Ohtani's shaky Spring Training debut, the rookie proved to live up to the hype.

Tweet from @AdamMcCalvy: Brett Phillips saw ���the kitchen sink��� from Shohei Ohtani. Here���s his animated take. pic.twitter.com/hW7AP23WA7

• A trio of Phillies prospects in J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Roman Quinn combined to go 5-for-6 with a walk, a home run, three runs and five RBIs against the Orioles. Alfaro knocked five home runs in 29 games last season and picked up right where he left off with a grand slam off veteran Dylan Bundy in the second inning.

Video: BAL@PHI: Alfaro launches a grand slam to left-center

• Another trio showed massive potential on the Cardinals squad. Carson Kelly, Bader and Randy Arozarena combined for two doubles, a home run, two RBIs, a stolen base and a walk to cap their Saturday matinee going 5-for-12.

• Athletics prospect Franklin Barreto (No. 66 overall) belted a monster home run in the first inning to put the A's on the board quickly. The highly-touted 21-year-old finished 1-for-2 with two RBIs.

Orioles No. 7 prospect Cedric Mullins turned the jets on and made a phenomenal diving catch in shallow center, smoothly doubling up a runner amidst the action. The 23-year-old went 0-for-2 against the Phillies at the plate, contributing mostly with the leather.

Video: BAL@PHI: Mullins makes amazing diving play, turns two

• The Marlins showed electric and promising power from the hill as pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara (No. 3) tossed two perfect innings and struck out a batter against the Nationals. 22-year-old Merandy Gonzalez (No. 16) rocked another perfect inning while notching two strikeouts en route to a save.

Video: WSH@MIA: Alcantara, Mattingly on outing against Nats

• A quartet of Astros pitching prospects walked off with goose eggs in their individual ERAs. Cionel Perez (No. 6), David Paulino (No. 8), Framber Valdez (No. 16) and Riley Ferrell (No. 20) combined for six strong innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and three walks while punching out six.

Video: ATL@HOU: Paulino gets Albies swinging in the 3rd

• The Rockies' top prospects are ready to put the offseason behind them. Jordan Patterson went 3-for-3 with two doubles, Ryan McMahon (No. 41 overall) tallied two RBIs and a walk and Garrett Hampson swiped a bag while going 1-for-2. Brian Mundell saw the most at-bats out of the bunch, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk. Sam Hilliard tacked on another RBI to complete the quintet of Colorado prospects' successful day.

• If fans could peel their eyes away from new Yankee giant Giancarlo Stanton for a moment, they'd witness prospect Billy McKinney showing up when it matters most. The 23-year-old exemplified power on a three-run home run that broke a tie in the ninth inning, leading the Yankees to a 4-1 win against the Pirates.

• Padres prospect Franchy Cordero created a buzz in San Diego last season, smashing three home runs and 21 hits in 30 games. The 23-year-old collected his first dinger and a pair of RBIs in a tough Padres loss to the A's on Saturday.

Mets No. 10 prospect Luis Guillorme added to the rookie home run parade by cranking a solo shot off the Cardinals' Bud Norris in the fifth inning. He finished the Mets' second day of spring games by going 1-for-2 with an RBI.

Video: STL@NYM: Guillorme belts a solo homer to center field

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Teen phenom Tatis goes deep in ST opener

Top prospect is youngest player in any big league camp
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Fernando Tatis Jr. is the youngest player in any big league camp this spring. During Friday's Cactus League opener, he wasted no time proving he belongs.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 8 overall prospect, Tatis mashed an opposite-field home run in his second at-bat of Spring Training. He fell behind against Mariners right-hander Shawn Armstrong, before swatting a 1-2 fastball over the fence in the bottom of the eighth.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Fernando Tatis Jr. is the youngest player in any big league camp this spring. During Friday's Cactus League opener, he wasted no time proving he belongs.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 8 overall prospect, Tatis mashed an opposite-field home run in his second at-bat of Spring Training. He fell behind against Mariners right-hander Shawn Armstrong, before swatting a 1-2 fastball over the fence in the bottom of the eighth.

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The swing was smooth and easy, yet the ball jumped off his bat and carried over the right-field bullpen. Said one member of the team's front office: "That's just what he does."

The Padres didn't threaten offensively after that, and they would lose the opener, 3-2. But it was Tatis who stole the show with the team's first homer of spring.

Padres Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

"I'm just trying to show off what we've got," Tatis said. "I'm trying prove to these guys that I don't care about my age, I'm just trying to make the team."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Tatis, who turned 19 in January, is destined to start the year in the Minors, though it's possible he could earn a late-season callup. Last year, he set a franchise record with 21 homers for Class A Fort Wayne before finishing the year with Double-A San Antonio.

Many in the Padres' organization view Tatis as their shortstop of the future. The job will be open next offseason, when Freddy Galvis hits free agency. If Tatis continues his rapid ascent, it could be his position to lose.

"His demeanor's been outstanding early in camp," said Padres manager Andy Green. "I don't think he's been fazed by anything. He looks comfortable on a baseball field. ... The power is real. All you have to do is watch batting practice to know that."

It's no coincidence that Tatis has been paired with veteran hitters during BP. On Tuesday, he and fellow top prospect Luis Urias were part of a group that also featured Eric Hosmer and Chase Headley -- 18 years of experience between them.

"Guys like that, you just ask questions a lot," Tatis said. "You try to learn what focus they have and their approach."

It's an immense source of pride for Tatis that he uses the whole field to hit for both power and average. Between two levels last season, Tatis batted .278/.379/.498.

Video: Tatis Jr. is named the top Padres prospect

"I don't just want to be a pull hitter or something like that," Tatis said. "I want to hit the ball to every part of the field -- that way I can get more hits and hit more for average."

Tatis came to San Diego in the 2016 trade that sent James Shields to the White Sox. Quickly, he began to prove himself in the Padres' system, doing so as one of the youngest players everywhere he played.

Tatis has drawn early comparisons to Manny Machado, and it shows in his body type. The Padres have pumped the brakes on that comparison, however. Expectations are already lofty enough.

There are questions regarding whether Tatis will stick at shortstop. (In his five innings there Friday, the Mariners hit no balls his way.) Almost no one questions his bat.

"He's good," Green said. "And we know it."

Video: Tatis Jr. named Padres' Pipeline hitter of the year

On Friday, Tatis paired with Urias in the middle of the Padres' infield. Urias got in on the fun, launching a double off the right-center-field wall. It might not be long before the duo anchors the middle infield at Petco Park.

"They're going to push as hard as they can to be here as quick as they can," Green said. "We want them to do that. I think it's our job to tap the brakes and take our time with them if we think they need more time and seasoning. They're clearly dynamic baseball players, and we're excited to have them."

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

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Hosmer starting spring slowly

Padres first baseman won't play until early next week; submariner Makita faces hitters
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's been an unusually busy week for Eric Hosmer. The newly signed Padres first baseman agreed to his eight-year deal on Saturday night. He flew to Arizona on Monday night. And he was introduced in a news conference on Tuesday.

Perhaps understandably, the Padres are now taking things slowly with Hosmer on the diamond. The club kicked off its Cactus League slate on Friday against Seattle. But Hosmer likely won't take the field in a Padres uniform until sometime early next week, possibly Monday or Tuesday according to manager Andy Green.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's been an unusually busy week for Eric Hosmer. The newly signed Padres first baseman agreed to his eight-year deal on Saturday night. He flew to Arizona on Monday night. And he was introduced in a news conference on Tuesday.

Perhaps understandably, the Padres are now taking things slowly with Hosmer on the diamond. The club kicked off its Cactus League slate on Friday against Seattle. But Hosmer likely won't take the field in a Padres uniform until sometime early next week, possibly Monday or Tuesday according to manager Andy Green.

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"I just want to ease into it," Hosmer said. "Just this last week alone has gotten me a little off track in terms of working out, keeping my body in shape and all that. I've been traveling all around, doing a bunch of different physicals and stuff.

"That's the thing Andy respects about me, and I respect about him. We're communicating about it. I played 162 games last year. I know what it takes to get ready for the season."

Padres Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

That number is a point of pride for Hosmer, perhaps as much as his batting average or his home run count. Not only did Hosmer play every game for Kansas City last year, but he actually got better as the year went on. His second-half slash line of .319/.397/.504 was better than his first half marks, and he finished the season by batting .320 in September.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"It says a lot about coming in every day and being ready to play, ready to go," Hosmer said. "In my career, there was one time in Kansas City where we missed the division by one game. You don't know when that time is going to come, whether it's April or late in the season."

Hosmer is still getting himself acclimated to Padres camp. He's particularly enthused about working with some talented youngsters. On Friday, he shared a batting practice group with MLB Pipeline's No. 8 and 36 overall prospects, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias.

"It's a lot different, man," he said. "But it's exciting for me at the same time. Guys like Tatis and Luis, I'd heard about all these guys. But now to get out on the field, work with them, see the talent they have, it's a lot of fun."

Makita faces hitters

Submariner Kazuhisa Makita put on a show when he faced hitters for the first time this spring during a live batting practice session Friday morning.

The 33-year-old right-hander showcased his entire six-pitch arsenal, including the Eephus-esque curveball that garnered so much acclaim during his seven seasons in Japan. The group of Padres hitters came away particularly impressed.

Video: Kazuhisa Makita on his first day with the Padres

"I've faced some submarine guys, but he's different," said Chase Headley. "He doesn't really pitch like a guy that pitches from down there."

Headley made the best contact of any hitter against Makita, smacking a line drive into the right-center-field gap. In particular, Makita kept the righty hitters off balance.

The rest of the Padres got a kick out of one particularly slow curveball, estimated at around 60 mph. An overeager Manuel Margot was miles in front, swinging through as the ball dropped to the dirt.

"Don't swing at that, Manny," a coach said.

Margot broke into a sheepish grin and gestured toward Makita, as if to point out just how unique the delivery was.

"The camp just started," Makita said through an interpreter, downplaying his early effectiveness. "The performance of the batters is going to come around. I'm looking forward to seeing that."

Lopez eyes roster spot

A.J. Ellis is the favorite for the backup catcher job, but don't count out lefty-hitting Raffy Lopez. The Padres are impressed with his framing techniques, particularly on pitches at the bottom of the zone.

Video: KC@TOR: Lopez hammers a solo homer to center field

Lopez has raked against right-handed pitching in the past, and Green noted the potential for a platoon with the right-handed-hitting Austin Hedges. After making some swing adjustments before last season, Lopez batted .288 with 16 home runs between two levels in the Blue Jays' system. He tacked on four big league dingers as well, in 54 at-bats.

Up next

It's a throwback Saturday of sorts for the Padres as they head to Mesa to face Oakland at 12:05 p.m. PT. During the offseason, they signed right-handers Tyson Ross and Chris Young to a pair of Minor League deals. Both were All-Stars at one point in San Diego, and both are looking to rejuvenate their careers with the Padres once again.

"Those guys are great examples to the young guys in camp," Green said. "And they have legitimate opportunities to be in our rotation. We'll watch that play out."

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

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer

Diaz transitioning back to starting role

Pitcher scheduled to throw in Friday's Cactus League opener
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If the Padres wanted Miguel Diaz to pitch in relief, the 23-year-old flame-thrower would have a decent shot at working his way into the big league bullpen.

But the Friars didn't select Diaz from Milwaukee in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft with the long-term vision that he'd be a reliever. He combines an upper-90s fastball with two impactful (yet still raw) offspeed pitches. The Padres think Diaz is worth more in the long run if he's a part of their rotation.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If the Padres wanted Miguel Diaz to pitch in relief, the 23-year-old flame-thrower would have a decent shot at working his way into the big league bullpen.

But the Friars didn't select Diaz from Milwaukee in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft with the long-term vision that he'd be a reliever. He combines an upper-90s fastball with two impactful (yet still raw) offspeed pitches. The Padres think Diaz is worth more in the long run if he's a part of their rotation.

Spring Training information

That's just fine with Diaz, who makes his spring debut Friday when the Padres open their Cactus League slate against Seattle. Diaz will pitch that game in relief (with an excess of starters in camp who also need innings). But make no mistake, the Padres will extend Diaz on a starter's progression.

"Last year was a little difficult for me, because I had never been a reliever," Diaz said. "The biggest thing for me has been just getting back that starter's routine and going through that five-day routine. I've prepared for that coming into this Spring Training. I ran more. I was in the gym and thinking in terms of endurance."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Diaz posted a 7.34 ERA in 31 appearances last season, three of which came as a starter. His struggles were probably predictable, after making the jump from Class A Advanced straight to the Majors. Per stipulations of the Rule 5 Draft, Diaz needed to stay on the big league roster an entire season or be returned to his former club.

In one sense, Diaz missed out on a year of development in the Minors as a starting pitcher. But neither he nor the Padres view it that way. Instead, Diaz has critical big league experience that other young pitchers do not.

Diaz is almost certain to begin the 2018 season in the Minor Leagues, possibly with Double-A San Antonio. And there are plenty of Major League lessons he can apply there.

"It's about the experience I was able to get last year," Diaz said. "But I did come into this Spring Training more focused on throwing my pitches for strikes and getting to know how to attack hitters differently -- what to throw in certain counts, how to use pitch sequencing. That's what I've been working on, and I'm going to continue to do so."

Kennedy starts Friday

The Padres have mapped out their pitching plans for this weekend's slate of games, with right-hander Brett Kennedy getting the ball for Friday's lid-lifter. Tyson Ross will follow Saturday, and Bryan Mitchell will start Sunday.

Kennedy posted a 3.70 ERA for San Antonio last season, with 134 strikeouts in 141 innings. Also slated to pitch Friday are Diaz, Kyle Lloyd, Buddy Baumann and Tom Wilhelmsen.

On Saturday, the Padres will turn back the clock a bit, sending Ross and Chris Young to the hill. Both were All-Stars at one point in San Diego, and they're eyeing a career renaissance in 2018.

Jankowski making early adjustments

After missing four months in 2017 with a broken bone in his right foot, Travis Jankowski has turned a few heads early in camp. He's slated to compete for the backup center-field job alongside Matt Szczur and Franchy Cordero.

Video: Green, Richard, Jankowski ready to start 2018 season

"I really like where Travis Jankowski's swing is right now," manager Andy Green said. "He came in a month early and he's been working with [new hitting coach] Matt Stairs since mid-to-late January, and there's been real changes to his swing. There's nobody who defends the field better and, honestly, nobody who runs the bases better than him. So if that bat comes around, he becomes a really, really exciting player for us."

Jankowski will start in center field Friday. Other position players expected to suit up include Carlos Asuaje, Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg.

Rea, Erlin throw live batting practice

It's been a long road back for Robbie Erlin and Colin Rea since their 2016 Tommy John surgeries. But the two rotation hopefuls are closing in on a full return.

Both Erlin and Rea faced live hitters for the first time this spring on Thursday. They're on a progression that's slightly slower than the rest of the club's hurlers. But they remain serious rotation candidates and should get enough innings to prove themselves.

The Peoria Sports Complex is familiar ground for both. Rea and Erlin spent the bulk of the 2017 season at the Padres' complex. Erlin even pitched during instructional games, while Rea threw two live sessions. Both were shut down mid-autumn, the idea being that they could approach the winter like a normal offseason.

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

San Diego Padres, Miguel Diaz, Robbie Erlin, Travis Jankowski, Brett Kennedy, Colin Rea

Padres roster options could lead to dark horses

MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' Cactus League slate opens Friday against Seattle, with 67 players set to take aim at a place on the Opening Day roster.

In reality, most of that roster is probably already set. But 10 or so jobs will be up for grabs this spring, and the battles for those coveted roster spots should feature plenty of competition.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' Cactus League slate opens Friday against Seattle, with 67 players set to take aim at a place on the Opening Day roster.

In reality, most of that roster is probably already set. But 10 or so jobs will be up for grabs this spring, and the battles for those coveted roster spots should feature plenty of competition.

Padres Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Every year, an under-the-radar player (or two) emerges to secure one of those places. With that in mind, here's a look at a few dark-horse candidates to make the Padres' roster out of Spring Training.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Tyson Ross
Two years ago, Ross was the Padres' Opening Day starter, coming off three consecutive excellent seasons with the team. He wouldn't make it any further than that opener against the Dodgers, however. Ross sustained a shoulder injury, and he hasn't pitched for San Diego since.

After signing with Texas last offseason -- and continuing to struggle with injuries there -- Ross is back in San Diego on a Minor League deal. It's early in camp, but the Padres have raved about the freeness in his pitching motion. Manager Andy Green said his delivery is "every bit as good" as it was during his All-Star campaign in 2014.

If Ross can regain at least some of his old form, there's opportunity available in the Padres' rotation. At least one spot is wide open, and potentially as many as three. Ross may have struggled last season, but he wasn't afforded a full offseason to recover. This year, he says he's fresh, and he's eyeing a bounce-back. The Padres will give him the chance to do so.

Christian Villanueva
Villanueva finds himself in a roster crunch in a crowded Padres infield. Behind Chase Headley at third base, he could be the odd man out, mainly because he lacks the positional versatility that could help the Friars.

But Green left the door open for Villanueva last week, when he noted that the club might not carry a backup for Freddy Galvis at short. (Galvis played 162 games last season, and the Padres could use his durability to their advantage.)

That might just clear room for Villanueva. San Diego could use a power threat off the bench, and Villanueva is coming off a 20-homer campaign at Triple-A El Paso before hitting four more after a September callup. By now, Villanueva has proven his worth in the Minors. There would be little benefit to keeping him there. It's merely a matter of opportunity.

Franchy Cordero
As much as the Padres like Cordero, it's hard to envision him making the Opening Day roster with the club as currently constructed. That said, there's a very real possibility that the Padres look to move one of their outfielders in the wake of the Eric Hosmer signing. If they do, Cordero could find himself squarely in the outfield mix.

An elite defender, Cordero can play all three outfield spots, which makes him a versatile option as a replacement. And as the outfield's only left-handed hitter, he could see some time spelling the starters against tough right-handed pitchers.

Of course, Cordero could probably benefit from a bit more Minor League seasoning, having struck out at a 44 percent clip following his callup last year. But he raked in the Dominican Winter League, batting .323 and earning MVP honors. If he continues to mash against big league pitching this spring, he might force the Padres' hand.

Video: CIN@SD: Cordero smacks a solo homer to left-center

Kyle McGrath
The Padres' bullpen is undeniably a bit right-hand heavy. Lefty Brad Hand will open the season as closer, but after him, the four most prominent setup men -- Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates, Phil Maton and Kaz Makita -- throw from the right side.

McGrath will face competition for a place as a lefty in the bullpen. Buddy Baumann is an early favorite, and if Matt Strahm doesn't make the rotation, he'd probably fall to the bullpen as well. But McGrath was very sharp in his brief big league stint last year. He posted a 2.84 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over 17 appearances. Left-handed hitters batted .167 without an extra-base hit against him.

As it stands, about 10 relievers are currently battling for approximately three spots. McGrath could certainly win one of those spots with an impressive spring.

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

San Diego Padres, Franchy Cordero, Kyle McGrath, Tyson Ross, Christian Villanueva

Myers, Hosmer reunited in Padres camp

Former prospects with KC expected to anchor San Diego's lineup
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For three weeks in the middle of the 2010 season, Wil Myers got a brief glimpse into his future. Then a catcher in the Royals' organization, Myers had recently been promoted to Class A Advanced Wilmington. There, he shared the middle of the batting order with a fellow top prospect by the name of Eric Hosmer.

At the time, Myers figured he'd one day anchor a lineup with Hosmer in the Majors. The two even posed for a photo shoot that was meant to depict the future of the Royals' offense.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For three weeks in the middle of the 2010 season, Wil Myers got a brief glimpse into his future. Then a catcher in the Royals' organization, Myers had recently been promoted to Class A Advanced Wilmington. There, he shared the middle of the batting order with a fellow top prospect by the name of Eric Hosmer.

At the time, Myers figured he'd one day anchor a lineup with Hosmer in the Majors. The two even posed for a photo shoot that was meant to depict the future of the Royals' offense.

"I definitely envisioned this back then," Myers said. "But I couldn't have envisioned it with San Diego."

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Sure enough, they both made their way to the Padres, Myers via trade and Hosmer with an eight-year, $144 million deal that was finalized Monday. The duo first met during instructional ball in 2009. In the Royals' system, their paths only crossed briefly during the 2010 season in Wilmington, before Myers was shipped to Tampa Bay.

Hosmer sees similarities to Royals in SD

Both Hosmer and Myers were in San Diego for the 2016 All-Star Game, though Myers hasn't managed to regain his All-Star form since. He also hasn't had much protection since the departure of Matt Kemp around the same time.

And while Myers doesn't necessarily buy into lineup protection in the traditional sense, he's quick to note that Hosmer's arrival eases the burden on the rest of the offense.

"Any time you add good hitters around you, it's going to make you better, no matter who you are," Myers said. "Whether you're hitting eighth or third or second, having Hosmer is going to help."

Padres manager Andy Green took the same stance.

"Having a guy that's used to hitting in the middle of the order relaxes everybody else," Green said. "We're excited about putting him in there, and were excited about watching everybody else reap the dividend of having him in the lineup."

Video: Green and Preller discuss signing Hosmer

On Wednesday, Hosmer took batting practice on two of Peoria's backfields. (He shared the cage with Chase Headley and Freddy Galvis, forming a trio of starting infielders who enter camp as veteran newcomers on a young Padres roster.)

Myers, meanwhile, is no longer part of that infield group. He has since moved from first base to the outfield to accommodate Hosmer's arrival. In a way, that position switch is symbolic.

Last year, Myers signed a then-franchise-record $83 million contract, keeping him on board through at least 2022. When Hosmer put pen to paper, he displaced Myers -- both at first base and as the recipient of the largest deal ever for a Padre. (With an opt-out structured into Hosmer's contract, he, too, is in San Diego through at least '22.)

Tweet from @Padres: Sweet swingin��� @wilmyers 🙌 pic.twitter.com/h8fn7ZbEkD

Green has yet to ponder how he'll stack Myers and Hosmer in the batting order. Presumably, they'll form a lefty-righty combo somewhere in the middle.

In theory, Myers' speed makes him a candidate for the No. 2 spot, ahead of Hosmer at No. 3. Then again, the Padres already have a few speed threats for the top of the order, and Myers would probably need to boost his on-base percentage to justify hitting second. Perhaps Hosmer could hit third and Myers fourth -- as they did for that brief stint in Wilmington eight years ago.

In any case, Hosmer and Myers appear destined to anchor the Padres' lineup for the foreseeable future.

"To have another guy who's here for the long haul is exciting," Myers said. "The more we grow together and learn together, I think the better we'll become."

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

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers

Hand prepared for unconventional closer role

Padres not expecting to always save lefty for ninth inning
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brad Hand is going to be the Padres' closer this season -- except when he isn't.

The All-Star lefty signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason, and, on most nights, it's safe to expect he'll be saved for the ninth inning. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule, in the eyes of manager Andy Green.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brad Hand is going to be the Padres' closer this season -- except when he isn't.

The All-Star lefty signed a three-year contract extension during the offseason, and, on most nights, it's safe to expect he'll be saved for the ninth inning. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule, in the eyes of manager Andy Green.

"We'll find interesting ways to utilize him that maximize our abilities to win games," Green said. "He'll close some games, for sure. But how that all plays out, I don't have that mapped out right now."

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That's just fine with Hand, who was used mostly in a setup capacity last year until the Padres sent Brandon Maurer to Kansas City at the Trade Deadline.

"Sometimes the ninth inning is talked about just because it ends the game," Hand said. "But there might be other situations -- and I think you're starting to see it more in baseball -- where the closer role is interchangeable. Other guys can come in and do the job, if you have to use [the closer] in an earlier situation."

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Green hypothesized one of those situations arising in a game against the Dodgers.

"I'd hate to be staring down [left-handed hitters] Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager in the eighth inning and say, 'I'm going to hold onto Brad until the ninth,'" Green said. "It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We'll move him around as best fits us, and he doesn't care. He's good with anything."

Over the past two seasons, Hand has cemented himself as one of the game's top relievers. He's posted a 2.56 ERA since joining the Padres in April 2016. During that time, he's posted consecutive 100-strikeout seasons, and he's appeared in more games than anyone, minus Addison Reed.

Video: Brad Hand is the No. 9 relief pitcher right now

During the offseason, Hand re-upped with the Padres through 2020 for $19.75 million, with a team option for '21. He enters this season secure financially and secure in his place in the Padres' bullpen -- even if his job as closer isn't entirely traditional.

"It's the same as every year," Hand said. "You get ready for the season, no matter what your role is. You've got to be ready to compete, ready to win ballgames, whether you're pitching the fifth inning or the ninth inning."

Padres finalizing pitching plans for opener
Kyle Lloyd, Brett Kennedy and Miguel Diaz will all pitch in Friday's Cactus League opener against the Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex, though Green did not confirm a starter.

All three are expected to begin the year in the Minors. Diaz spent last season in the Major League bullpen as a Rule 5 Draft pick, but he'll be a starting pitcher to open this season. In that sense, the club feels he could use some experience in the Minors, and he likely won't be a part of an already-crowded rotation battle.

Quotable
Green had high praise for Tyson Ross and Chris Young, noting the impact the veteran right-handers can make on a young group of pitchers this spring:

"Both of them are the type of pitchers that we'd love to build in our farm system with the way they're wired, the way they compete," Green said. "They're great examples for our guys. Their workouts are religious to them. They don't miss anything, they take care of their bodies.

"That's how you pitch deep into your 30s. If you don't do those things, your career usually ends around 30 years old. Those guys are great examples to the young guys in camp, and those two guys have legitimate opportunities to be in our rotation. We'll watch that play out."

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

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand

On-the-rise Padres the best fit for Hosmer

Direction of franchise was important factor in 1B signing 8-year deal
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- On the back fields of the Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday morning, Padres staff prepped for the first full-squad workout of 2018. In the nearby Colonnade room at Peoria Stadium, Eric Hosmer buttoned his home jersey and donned a Padres cap for the first time.

San Diego's 144-million-dollar man had arrived -- and just in time for the start of camp.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- On the back fields of the Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday morning, Padres staff prepped for the first full-squad workout of 2018. In the nearby Colonnade room at Peoria Stadium, Eric Hosmer buttoned his home jersey and donned a Padres cap for the first time.

San Diego's 144-million-dollar man had arrived -- and just in time for the start of camp.

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The club formally introduced Hosmer on Tuesday morning, a day after the two parties put the finishing touches on a franchise-record eight-year contract. Hosmer spoke with the media for half an hour and got straight to work after that, taking grounders alongside his new teammates.

Video: Getting to know new Padre Eric Hosmer

"Ultimately it came down to waiting and figuring out what the best fit was," Hosmer said. "I'm here and doing a press conference on the first day of Spring Training. ... I'm happy to get a deal done, talk to you guys and go play some baseball."

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The scene is a new one for Hosmer, who spent his first 10 professional seasons in the Royals organization. There, he won a World Series, two American League pennants and four Gold Glove Awards, while amassing a .284/.342/.439 slash line and 127 homers.

Hosmer has already helped bring an elusive World Series to one title-starved franchise. The Padres, he says, are on the same path.

"I just saw the direction the organization was going," Hosmer said. "I saw the people at the top of the mountain who were leading the organization. I bought into what they're trying to do here."

Video: 12:25 Live: Hosmer's bat will have impact on Padres

Hosmer's contract is worth $144 million with $105 million due before his opt-out after the 2022 season. It's easily the largest guarantee in Padres history, surpassing Wil Myers' contract by $61 million and more than doubling James Shields' record free-agent deal.

The contract includes a $5 million signing bonus, $20 million a year in salary from 2018-22 and $13 million a year in salary from 2023-25. Hosmer has a full no-trade clause through 2020, and he'll have a limited no-trade clause from 2021-25, though he will have 10/5 veto rights starting in 2023 if he remains with the Padres.

The reason for the commitment? Hosmer is viewed as the turning point for a franchise headed toward annual contention. At 28, Hosmer was the youngest major free agent available, and the Padres believe his prime will mesh perfectly with the arrival of their talented youngsters.

Already, Myers, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe are under team control through 2022. The Padres also own one of the game's elite farm systems, featuring six of MLB Pipeline's Top 50 prospects.

"In terms of the term and the length, that was what was really attractive about Eric," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "He's a 28-year-old free agent. Ultimately, we're looking at a guy that is going to bridge the current group and the future groups. ... He's going to be a stabilizing force for us. He's a pillar in the ground."

Video: Preller on excitement over Padres signing Hosmer

Added Padres manager Andy Green: "We feel great about where we are and having him in the fold. ... He fits in perfectly."

The Hosmer deal was made with one eye on the future. Any success for the Padres in 2018 would be considered ahead of schedule. That's where Hosmer's career trajectory comes into play.

"If it wasn't Eric, with all the qualities he has, I don't know that we'd have done this this year," said Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler. "But this guy checked every box. He's a good player, a leader in the clubhouse, has a lot of qualities that A.J. and Andy wanted. ... This guy was maybe the one guy that we were prepared to go after a year or two early. That's how good we think he is."

In San Diego, Hosmer will wear No. 30, a way to honor former teammate Yordano Ventura, who passed away tragically last offseason. (Hosmer's old number, 35, is retired in San Diego for legendary left-hander Randy Jones.) On Tuesday, Hosmer spoke of his desire to carry on Ventura's legacy, and he spoke lovingly about his seven seasons in Kansas City.

Video: Hosmer honors the late Ventura by wearing No. 30

But for all his success there, Hosmer has made a few memories in San Diego, too. He earned All-Star Game MVP honors in 2016, and last spring, he starred at the World Baseball Classic. Hosmer was asked what he likes so much about playing in Petco Park.

"I think Petco Park likes me," he joked. "Every time I go there, it seems to work out."

It's his home office now. Over the next eight years, he'll undoubtedly make a few more memories in San Diego's East Village.

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

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer

In SD, Hosmer sees similarities to Royals

New Padres 1B was part of stacked KC farm system that cashed in with WS title
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In May 2011, Eric Hosmer arrived in a championship-starved city with his focus set squarely on reversing those fortunes. It didn't happen instantly. But the process worked as well as anyone in Kansas City could have hoped. By '14 the Royals were American League champs. A year later, they won their first World Series in three decades.

Hosmer has once again arrived in a city desperately searching for a title. It's been 20 seasons since San Diego's last trip to the Fall Classic and nearly a decade since the Padres contended for a playoff spot.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In May 2011, Eric Hosmer arrived in a championship-starved city with his focus set squarely on reversing those fortunes. It didn't happen instantly. But the process worked as well as anyone in Kansas City could have hoped. By '14 the Royals were American League champs. A year later, they won their first World Series in three decades.

Hosmer has once again arrived in a city desperately searching for a title. It's been 20 seasons since San Diego's last trip to the Fall Classic and nearly a decade since the Padres contended for a playoff spot.

Spring Training information

Now, Hosmer gets to see things from a different angle. Seven years ago, Kansas City was primed to cash in on one of the game's top farm systems. Hosmer, the No. 3 overall Draft selection in 2008, was a pivotal part of that process, in which the Royals stockpiled young talent in hopes of a future payoff.

The same is true of San Diego -- except now Hosmer is the $144 million man and not the bright-eyed youngster. The 28-year-old first baseman was unveiled in a news conference Tuesday morning, and he compared the two situations.

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"A lot of similarities," said Hosmer, who dug deeply into the intricacies of the Padres' farm system before he signed. "It's something I went through as a young guy. I'm excited to go through it now, not being the young guy anymore and being the guy that can be there for the young guys."

Padres general manager A.J. Preller called Hosmer a "bridge" between the current team and the group that will arrive in the future. The Padres boast six of MLB Pipeline's Top 50 prospects and arguably the best farm system in the sport, and they believe Hosmer's presence will only help to nurture some of those youngsters.

Ideally, Fernando Tatis Jr. (ranked No. 8 overall), MacKenzie Gore (No. 19) and Luis Urias (No. 36) can comprise a prospect core that resembles what Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez became in Kansas City.

"Each situation's different," said Preller. "But [Hosmer] had the experience of being a young player that's come to the big leagues, struggled as a group, then ended up being really successful at the Major League level. Those experiences played into our evaluation of him and are pretty valuable to our club and our clubhouse."

Video: Preller on excitement over Padres signing Hosmer

Hosmer was quick to note the mood among the Royals fanbase when those prospects landed in Kansas City, one after another. It's begun to happen in San Diego already, where Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe made their full-season debuts last year. Urias and Cal Quantrill could arrive later this season. Tatis isn't too far away.

"In 2011, it seemed like every other week a different prospect was coming up," Hosmer said. "It's a fun process. It's an exciting time because everybody hears about all these guys, and once one guy comes up, it seems like the fanbase really latches on and appreciates that player. Before you know it, there's another guy rolling in and another guy rolling in."

Part of Hosmer's job is to nurture those youngsters -- a role he's eager to undertake. Of course, he's also been tasked with anchoring first base and the middle of the San Diego lineup for the foreseeable future. Hosmer is coming off a career year, in which he batted .318/.385/.498 with 25 homers, and the Padres are expecting more of the same.

"First and foremost, he's a good player," Preller said. "Then, on top of that, he's had experiences that are similar to what some of those guys are going to go through in the next few years. We saw that as a really good fit for us."

News and notes

• The Padres designated catcher Rocky Gale for assignment to clear room for Hosmer on the 40-man roster. Gale was set to compete for the backup job behind starter Hedges (and if he clears waivers, he could still do so). For now, it's A.J. Ellis and Raffy Lopez battling for that spot.

• The Padres held their first full-squad workout Tuesday morning -- pushed back three hours because of damp fields and an early morning chill. Sixty-seven players in camp will compete for 25 available roster places.

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

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer