Monday, February 20, 2012

Cactus fire

Grooming Edinson Volquez to throw more strikes is Darren Balsley's first priority this spring training. Second on the pitching coach's to-do list, Balsley told this blog, is to stoke the competition among relievers.

"We're going to put them under fire a little," Balsley said.

Relievers' outings in past spring trainings were largely tuneups and chances to experiment with pitches, because the Padres knew what they had.

"We could name our guys who were going to throw in the seventh or eighth," Balsley said.  "It's a competition this year.

"We're going to see how they compete -- not so much physically but psychologically."

An exception will be closer Houston Street, who boasts at least 16 saves in all seven of his seasons.

Balsley and bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who are in their 10th year together, will adjust bullpen sessions so relievers are prepared for the more stressful tests.

"I want them healthy, competing for spots," Balsley said.

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