Notes: Peavy's dead arm looks alive
Right-hander strikes out six in five innings against Rangers
PEORIA, ARIZ. -- The box score looked good for Jake Peavy's outing Wednesday, so maybe the 25-year-old right-hander was just being a perfectionist when he described himself as so far from his best that the baseball felt like a shot put leaving his hand with each pitch.
Though the Padres ended up losing to the Rangers, 9-5, in 10 innings, Peavy left after five with a 2-1 lead. He struck out six and walked one, giving up two hits, including a homer off the bat of Ian Kinsler.
"I'm kind of going through that dead arm, where my arm doesn't feel real alive," Peavy said after finishing his innings. "Feels like you're throwing a shot put every time. I asked [teammate Scott] Linebrink yesterday playing catch, I said 'Is this ball heavy?' He says, 'No, it's not, I don't think so.'"
The sense of an obstacle to overcome gave Peavy a different mind-set on the mound, forcing him to focus more on outwitting opposing hitters than he might otherwise feel inclined to during an insignificant spring session.
"Those are good outings that you really learn from, because when you don't feel your best you really try to concentrate on pitching," Peavy explained.
Peavy used all of his pitches and both sides of the plate, challenging lefties and righties alike, and aptly getting inside the heads of a hungry Texas lineup.
"Guys were just raring to go," he said, observing a developing spring pattern of eagerness to impress on the part of some younger hitters when he draws a club short on veterans. "I faced the Cubs' starting lineup, and they were a little more selective, but Kansas City, and then Seattle, they just wanted to rip."
Peavy came into the game with a cumbersome 11.57 ERA from his previous two Cactus League starts, and after spending time working on elements of his game in previous outings, he found himself working on getting outs against the Rangers.
"That walk to [Brad] Wilkerson kind of bugged me," he admitted of his second-inning lapse. "I was fast, flying through, not making the adjustment, getting some pitches up. I really tried to bear down and not let that happen again, get some quick outs."
Peavy retired 11 of the next 12 hitters he faced, losing only Kinsler when he went against his instinct to pitch him inside and Kinsler went out and got a fastball away.
Ironically, Peavy had been working on his fastball away in his previous two starts, but the efforts were made moot by the anxious batsman hacking at anything they could reach, regardless of how far out of the strike zone he led them.
"During the season, you're just straight trying to get outs and get outs for as long as you can get them and then you hand the ball over to the bullpen," Peavy said. "Today I wanted to get some work in, and not pitch out of the stretch the whole stinking time like I have the last couple of outings. So I had to pitch like a normal game. Try to pitch backward a lot. Change speeds. Got to save a little bit of face here."
In the process of saving face, he saved his ERA as well, nearly cutting it in half with his clean outing.
Walker in the mix: Infielder Todd Walker passed a soft deadline in sticking with the team through March 14. Awarded $3.95 million in arbitration, Walker would be eligible for one-sixth of his salary, or $685,333, if he was released Wednesday, and one-fourth of his salary, or $987,500, if he's released by March 28.
If Walker is unable to win the second base job from Giles, he would be a long shot luxury to keep as a backup infielder.
"Rather pricey for a utility guy," Towers conceded, "but a proven hitter, and you never know when an injury may happen. It'd be nice to have that type of guy if somebody goes down."
Left out: Along with the bullpen's makeup, after Trevor Hoffman, Linebrink, and Cla Meredith, the biggest remaining question regarding the Opening Day roster is the identity of its starting left fielder.
With an abundance of viable candidates for the job, manager Bud Black acknowledged the possibility of going with a platoon at the position, an option that helps Jose Cruz Jr.'s chances as a switch-hitter historically better from the right side in a field otherwise predominately populated by lefty-swinging candidates.
"It's good to have that option, a right-handed-hitting outfielder," Black said. "We're a little loaded with left-handed hitting outfielders, with Brian [Giles], and [Terrmel] Sledge, and [Jack] Cust and [Paul] McAnulty, all those guys."
Center fielder Mike Cameron is the only straight righty currently in the outfield mix.
And then there were 43: The Padres trimmed six more players from their Spring Training roster Wednesday.
The club optioned left-handed pitcher Ryan Ketchner and infielders Luis Cruz and Craig Stansberry to Triple-A Portland. They also reassigned right-handed pitcher Steve Watkins and infielder Brian Myrow to Minor League camp and gave right-handed pitcher Mike Adams his unconditional release.
On deck: The Padres have an off-day Thursday, but Chris Young will pitch a Minor League intrasquad game to keep the rotation on schedule. Luke Carlin will catch the game.
Friday night the Padres return to action and a rematch against the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. PT. Clay Hensley will be on the mound for the Friars, facing Texas right-hander Jamey Wright.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.