Spangenberg hopes to bring speed to Padres soon
Prospect has increased his stolen base total in three seasons in the Minors
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres finished second in the National League last year in steals, snagging 118 bases. Down in the Minors, the club boasts a top prospect who could soon add to the Padres' prowess on the bases.
In each of Cory Spangenberg's first three professional seasons, the second baseman increased his stolen base total, going from 25 in 2011 to 27 in 2012 to 36 last year. Spangenberg, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, said he doesn't believe he has gotten any faster since entering pro ball, instead crediting his coaching and experience reading pitchers for the steady climb.
"It's just been learning everything about the art of it," Spangenberg said. "Learning what kind of pitcher you have and if he slides steps or if he has a leg kick. Just having that first instinct to trust yourself and not looking back once you go."
Promoted to Double-A San Antonio midway through last year because of his progressing bat and glove, Spangenberg saw his stolen base success rate dip from 85 percent (17-for-20) to 63 percent (19-for-30) with the jump, but he thinks working in Major League camp this spring as a non-roster invitee will help him bump the number back up.
He's especially keeping a close eye on Everth Cabrera, who stole a combined 81 bases the last two seasons for the Padres.
"I'm just learning from talking to guys," Spangenberg said. "You pick up little tips here and there and you can learn a lot. They've been there and done that so you just have to sort of lay low and watch what they do."
Torres shows rust, talent in San Diego debut
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Making his Padres debut Thursday against the Rangers, left-hander Alex Torres battled through some rust and command issues but showed glimpses of how electric his stuff can be when he's right.
Torres, acquired from the Rays in January, allowed three hits, walked two batters and struck out a pair in 2/3 of an inning. He left the game with the bases loaded and Dennis O'Grady served up a grand slam moments later to leave Torres charged with five earned runs.
"We saw the live arm," Padres manager Bud Black said of Torres. "I think he was a little bit out of sorts, it has been a sped up process for him but you can tell this guy has a good arm. You can see where he's had the success with Tampa the last couple years."
The 26-year-old arrived to Padres camp last week after missing the first 12 days of workouts with visa issues in his native Venezuela stemming from a change of employers. He appeared in 39 games for the Rays in 2013, striking out 62 batters and compiling a miniscule 1.71 ERA in 58 innings.
On Thursday, Torres threw 34 pitches, 18 for strikes. He struck out J.P. Arencibia swinging on a disappearing 83-mph changeup in the dirt and Leonys Martin looking with a 92-mph fastball at the knees.
The Rangers did their damage off him courtesy of a Prince Fielder double followed by consecutive singles from Michael Choice and Kevin Kouzmanoff before he walked the final two batters he faced later in the frame.
"I feel OK but it was a tough day, just a bad outing," Torres said. "You have to continue to work it out. I haven't seen a hitter in months so I just felt a little bit tight. Didn't throw the ball for strikes and that's what happens."
Expected to handle a late-inning role in the bullpen this season for the Padres, Torres will return to Cactus League action in the next two or three days.
Manager keeps the faith in Vincent
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres reliever Nick Vincent has been hit hard in his first two appearances this spring, but manager Bud Black's support of the right-hander isn't wavering. Not by a long shot.
"Come March 30, he's going to be fine," Black said. "We'll get him back out there pitching in a couple days and he'll have a good outing. He's fine."
Vincent, a Poway native, surrendered four runs (two earned) on four hits in 2/3 of an inning in his spring debut Sunday against the Reds. Then on Tuesday, the D-backs smacked four consecutive hits off the 27-year-old to start his afternoon, resulting in three earned runs.
"He's working on his fastball command and some other things," Black said. "He can pitch up at the hands, but he's also got to be able to throw the ball down and he hasn't done that much of that his first two outings."
Over the last two seasons, Vincent made a combined 72 relief appearances for the Padres, accumulating a stellar 1.98 ERA with 77 strikeouts using mostly a fastball-cutter combination. What Black likes most about him, however, is his knack for attacking the zone. He has only walked 18 batters in 72 2/3 Major League innings.
"His first couple years he has shown that he's trustworthy as far as throwing strikes and not beating himself in close ballgames," Black said. "I like that aspect of him. His performance will dictate where he ends up, like all players, but he's got a lot of intangibles going for him that sets him up for more roles that might be deemed critical. I'm not afraid to use this guy, I like him."
• Initially scheduled to play Thursday, Carlos Quentin wasn't in the lineup against the Rangers. Black said he'll return Friday, however, and make his second appearance of the spring.
• Cameron Maybin met with Padres doctors Thursday in San Diego to discuss whether he will need surgery after rupturing his left biceps tendon on Sunday.
• Tommy Medica continued his assault on Cactus League pitching Thursday, launching a three-run homer in the ninth inning against the Rangers. He is now batting .550 (11-for-20) with two doubles, two home runs and six RBIs this spring.
"Tommy is swinging well," Black said. "He's got aggressive bat speed through the zone, he's swinging extremely well and he's hitting with a lot of confidence. He's trying to make a statement."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.