Clevinger perfect in first game action since TJ surgery

March 24th, 2022

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Just a Minor League game on a Cactus League back field? Not for . Not after 17 months on the sideline following his second Tommy John surgery.

"Looked like he was pitching the seventh game of the World Series, but that's just who he is," said manager Bob Melvin.

"That first inning felt like Game 7 of the World Series," said Clevinger. "But after that I calmed down, kept my heart rate back, was able to work on some things. It went well."

Really? Went well? That’s quite an understatement from Clevinger. The reality is that it went about as well as his first game action since surgery could've possibly gone.

Clevinger pitched three innings against a team of White Sox Minor Leaguers and didn't allow a baserunner, striking out four and needing only 41 pitches to retire 10 batters. In fact, Clevinger was so efficient in the first inning that when he had retired three batters on 11 pitches, the Padres' coaching staff asked him to get one more out. (Clevinger promptly recorded it via strikeout.)

"It just shows that the work that I've put in is actually trending to where I want it to," Clevinger said. "It was good to see the action on the pitches. The shapes of them were all there. I was able to locate all five of them today."

Clevinger's next appearance will come in a Cactus League game early next week, the first time that he'll face big league hitters. He already has a secure place in the Padres' Opening Day rotation. But Clevinger will have workload restrictions at the beginning of the season as he builds his arm up.

To that end, Clevinger says he isn't setting any specific targets. He only has one goal for where he wants to be when the season starts: "Healthy," he said. "That's it."

Voit gets his first hit
The Padres brought on board so he could mash. He got started on Wednesday in their 3-0 win over the Angels.

Voit hit a laser double into the left-field corner for his first Cactus League hit with his new team. He's now 1-for-4 with a pair of walks this spring.

"It feels great," Voit told Bally Sports San Diego. "Feels great to be in brown and gold. These guys have brought me in. It's been a really fun atmosphere so far. ... I forgot how far second base is -- I was huffing and puffing for a couple minutes after that. But it's been fun. Nice to get that first one out of the way."

Voit arrived in Padres camp on Monday after he was acquired from the Yankees in exchange for pitching prospect Justin Lange.

Pagán's new pitch
It was quite a start for right-hander , who pitched another scoreless frame on Wednesday and has yet to allow a baserunner while striking out four in two innings this spring. Pagán, looking to put his dreadful finish to the 2021 season in the rearview mirror, is a candidate for the team's closer role.

Pagán developed a new pitch during the offseason -- a split-finger fastball -- and so far, the results are encouraging. The goal, Pagán says, is to create a "triangle effect" with his three pitches: a fastball at the top of the zone, a slider that bites one direction and a splitter that fades the other.

"Now, it's just about playing around with where do I start it on the plate? What sequences does it work best with?" Pagán said. "I'm still learning how to use it, but as far as throwing it, I feel very comfortable."


• Right-hander  pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning, striking out a pair of Angels in the process. He's likely to open the season in the bullpen, and he could be a candidate to fill the Padres' closer role, though that seems unlikely to happen straight out of camp. (Lamet missed time last season as he dealt with right elbow trouble, and San Diego might look for a less taxing spot for him in its bullpen at first.)

•  continues to rake this spring. He homered and went 2-for-3 on Wednesday, bringing his spring OPS to a team-leading 1.715. In a deep catching mix, Alfaro is a favorite to make the roster as the team's third backstop, considering the value of his powerful righty bat off the bench.