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Padres hoping to avoid slow start this season

Injuries, poor pitching led to big early holes in last two campaigns

SAN DIEGO -- In 2012, the Padres stumbled out of the gate to a 9-20 start, as the offense struggled and the team was hit hard by injuries in April.

Last season, the Padres were 5-15 after 20 games, which was largely the result of bad pitching, as their starters posted a 5.87 ERA in that stretch.

"We've gotten off to a bad start two years in a row and we want to reverse that trend," said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes.

That's why Byrnes and manager Bud Black have already had discussions about looking for ways to get the Padres off to a better start in 2014. That discussion will continue when the team gets to Peoria, Ariz., for the start of Spring Training next month.

"We're really going to track what's going on in the early part of March and make sure that doesn't slow us down the last part of March," Black said. "I think more than anything our starters have to be pitching well."

The slow start in 2013 wasn't entirely unforeseen, not with several key players dealing with injuries in Spring Training.

Chase Headley fractured the tip of his left thumb. Carlos Quentin, who was coming off right knee surgery, was brought along slow. Edinson Volquez missed part of camp pitching in the World Baseball Classic.

"Last year, we didn't have Headley, Clayton [Richard] wasn't up to speed, Quentin didn't have many at-bats and Volquez had pitched in the WBC and he wasn't quite hitting on all cylinders," Black said.

The pitching faltered from the outset, as the Padres allowed 14 runs over the first two games of the season to the Mets. In their first 29 games, the Padres only had one starter surpass seven innings.

"It's also the timing of our pitching," Black said. "The guys who are in the rotation to begin the season, they need to have their pitch counts and need to have been throwing the ball well their last few starts and we need their stuff to be where it needs to be."

Health will play a big role in how the Padres start as well. In 2012, Quentin and Tim Stauffer missed the start of the season. Dustin Moseley and Kyle Blanks were lost to season-ending injuries before the end of the month.

Last season, Headley missed the first 14 games of the season with his injury. Logan Forsythe landed on the disabled list in Spring Training. Cameron Maybin followed him to the disabled list April 17.

"We've got to make sure we do the very best we can to stay healthy as we get into the middle part of March and guys start getting their legs under them as Opening Day approaches. If that means slowing some guys down earlier, we'll do that," Black said.

"We need to have guys be completely honest about their health early in the spring to make sure they're not fighting anything [as far as injuries]. That's what we have to be aware of."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.

San Diego Padres, Chase Headley, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin