Notes: Debut works out well for Wells
Veteran deems first spring start a success despite stats
TEMPE, Ariz. -- David Wells worked up a sweat during a 12-pitch at-bat against Gary Matthews Jr. in his first inning of the spring on Friday, though that had more to do with the 82-degree temperature and not the the 43-year-old veteran's state of conditioning.
After spending three weeks in Africa on a safari in the offseason, Wells figures he can put up with just about anything -- stifling heat, players 20 years his junior and what will be his 22nd Major League season.
"When it's 110 degrees, you keep sweating," Wells said after his Cactus League debut in Tempe against the Angels. "Fat people don't sweat. We stay cool in the shade. We shade ourselves. You're out there ... you don't have access to food."
Wells spent three weeks in Tanzania last November on a hunting excursion. That, Wells said, amounted to most of his offseason conditioning. That and two weeks of long toss before reporting to Peoria last month for the start of Spring Training.
And it seemed to work for Wells. He's got 230 reasons -- well, career victories -- to prove it.
"I'm a freak," Wells said, almost proudly in front of his locker. "I don't need a circus. I am a circus."
His appearance on Friday -- Wells allowed three runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings before hitting his pitch count of 40 -- was everything he wanted it to be, and it provided Wells with even more ammunition for why Spring Training is too long.
"When you've gone through 25, 26 Spring Trainings, you know what it takes to get ready," the lefty said. "I've always been asked if I was behind in schedule. Spring Training is too long. If you come in, in decent shape, you can get in shape in 2 1/2 to 4 weeks."
That's plenty of time for Wells, who, despite allowing three runs, considered his spring debut a rousing success.
"I'm pretty content with the first outing," Wells said. "My fastball had a little bit more life than I anticipated it, having from throwing my [bullpen sessions]. I've been throwing bullpens OK, but when you get your adrenaline going, the ball comes out of your hand a lot easier."
As for that first at-bat against Matthews Jr., Wells shrugged it off.
"Nice luck," Wells said of facing Matthews, an at-bat that eventually ended with the left-hander getting the Angels leadoff hitter on a groundout. "At least I got to throw my pitches. It's kind of a blessing and it isn't. It took away from throwing two or three innings. But I felt good, I didn't labor at all."
Thoughts on Trevor: You don't have to sell manager Bud Black on the merits of the importance of closers. Black played with some good ones during his career, from Dan Quisenberry in Kansas City to Doug Jones in Cleveland, to Dave Righetti and Rod Beck in San Francisco.
"I was fortunate to have good closers behind me," Black said.
This season, as a first-year manager, Black will rely on arguably the greatest closer of all time -- Trevor Hoffman, who is the Major League's career leader with 482 saves.
The beauty to being a good closer isn't just about ability, Black said, but having the mental makeup to succeed. And in Hoffman's case, being able to do it for as long as he has.
"The importance of that role is extremely important to the psyche of the team," Black said. "It takes a special type of makeup to handle that role day after day, month after month, year after year."
Cuts ahead? Black said on Thursday that he and his coaching staff have already started discussing the first round of cuts, as the Padres will look to trim their roster of 57 healthy players down to a more workable number.
"I think we will talk about moving guys over to the other side this weekend," Black said. "Position players on the Minor League side will be coming in and starting games."
Many of the cuts figure to come on the pitching side, as 30 hurlers are in camp. And as the Padres dig deeper into Cactus League play, there just won't be enough innings for those pitchers.
Padres log: The Padres face the Rockies at 12:05 p.m. PT in Peoria on Saturday, as Chris Young makes his third spring start. Doug Brocail, Cla Meredith, Adrian Burnside and Steve Watkins are also scheduled to pitch. ... On Sunday, the Padres play the first of three games in Tucson against the Diamondbacks, White Sox and Rockies. ... San Diego committed four errors Friday, giving the team six in Cactus League play. ... The Tony Gwynn 2007 Classic takes place on Saturday at PETCO Park. San Diego State, the host school which Gwynn manages, faces Michigan at 7 p.m. ... Minor League position players reported to camp on Friday, with their first workout scheduled for Sunday. ... Outfielder Cedric Hunter, considered the team's best Minor League prospect, turns 19 on Saturday. ... Kevin Kouzmanoff hit his first home run of the spring on Friday against the Cubs in a split-squad game. Starter Jake Peavy allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings. In Tempe, Jose Cruz Jr. and Russell Branyan each hit their first home runs of the spring against the Angels.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.