With the players back in Peoria and the first Spring Training game set for Friday, it's time to talk some Padres baseball. A sampling of quick slants from the last few days around Padre Land:
•Starter Clayton Richard is back on board, at least for another year. The lefty avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5.24 million deal. Good to have the team "bulldog" ready to go. Richard was the one and only starter who didn't miss a start all of last season. In 33 starts, he won 14 games, and was voted Padres Pitcher of the Year by the San Diego chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Who wants to see this guy inked to a long-term deal?
•Edinson Volquez has announced he will be playing for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, which runs from March 2-19. Volquez and Clayton Richard are the only two starters who have a place locked down in the Padres' season opening rotation. The concern here is whether he gets enough throwing in before the season starts. He will be missing a big chunk of Spring Training–how much work will he get in during the WBC? What do you think of players missing most of Spring Training to play in the WBC?
•Tim Stauffer and Andrew Cashner, both on the comeback trail, have started throwing off the mound again. Stauffer, the Padres' Opening Day starter in 2012, missed almost the entire season due to soreness in his right elbow, and hadn't thrown off a mound since last August.
Cashner had surgery in December to repair a lacerated tendon in his right thumb. The Padres are counting on him as a starter once he returns to form. He was originally used out of the bullpen, and sustained a season-ending injury shortly after converting to a starter last season. Would you rather see him throwing fireballs as a starter or reliever? And who do you want to see in the Padres' season-opening five-man rotation?
Finally, that brings us to Yasmani Grandal. The switch-hitting catcher made all the right kind of news in 2012 when he blasted home runs in his first two Major League at-bats, but things are not so happy now. After being suspended for 50 games in November for testing positive for testosterone, he issued an apology to the team before their first full-squad workout on Saturday:
"Last November, I admitted taking a banned substance and accepted my punishment of a 50-game suspension. I have taken full responsibility for my actions and apologized to my teammates, the fans and the San Diego Padres organization. I plan to put that mistake behind me, serve my suspension and continue working hard to be the best player and teammate I can be…"
How will this affect team morale? And what do you think of MLB's policy of a 50 game suspension without pay for first-time illegal substance abuse offenders? Padres 101 wants to hear from you! And be sure to vote in the new Padres 101 fan poll regarding MLB's suspension policy.
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