PEORIA, Ariz. -- The organizational edict the Padres have accentuated in recent years about the value of fastball command from pitchers has apparently taken hold.
Pitching coach Darren Balsley, who will lay eyes on the 37 pitchers in big league camp, said that he has noticed something familiar among the many Minor League pitchers in camp.
"What's been pounded down from our organization [fastball command] is sinking in," Balsley said. "I haven't had to say a word about it so far. That's the goal and it's obviously been relayed through the Minor Leagues."
That's not all, though.
"The arms from our Minor Leaguers keeps getting better and better," Balsley said. "There are a lot of kids throwing 90 mph."
Balsley was talking specifically about non-roster invitees Matt Stites, Kevin Quackenbush and Adys Portillo, who is on the 40-man roster. All three will begin the season in the Minor Leagues.
For these first few days of workouts, Balsley is observing. He'll add instruction as camp rolls on, though he feels he needs to see each pitcher in his own element first.
"It's a lot of guys to watch and to individually instruct right now is difficult. You don't really want to do that in the beginning of the spring anyway. You want to let them do their thing and get their arms in shape," Balsley said.
"I don't like the fact we have 38 games, that's a lot of games. But the one thing it will allow us to do is look at a lot of guys and perhaps what they need to work on. It's not ideal, but it works."
Ransom happy to spend birthday playing ball
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cody Ransom spent his 37th birthday on Sunday doing what he's always done, doing it where he wants to.
"I'm very fortunate to play baseball," said Ransom, an infielder who is in big league camp with the Padres on a Minor League contract. "You get to go out and live your dream every day. It's a lot of work and a grind, but we're lucky."
Ransom is in his first camp with the Padres. San Diego is the 10th different Major League organization that he's been with since beginning his career in 1998.
Ransom, who signed with the Padres on Dec. 21, has played parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues with the Giants, Astros, Yankees, Phillies, D-backs and Brewers. He has been lucky to spend just about all of his Spring Trainings in Arizona.
"I'm not going to lie, Spring Training in Arizona is very appealing for me," said Ransom, who was born in Mesa. "I was born and raised here and get to go home to the wife and kids every night."
Ransom said he's become familiar with weighing options each offseason. He looks for certain things and talks to a lot of people, all with the design of finding the right fit.
"You look at the opportunity, the makeup of the team, the front office, the coaching staff and you kind of ask questions of people who have played there or currently play there, to get a feel if they have the same mindset and beliefs you do," Ransom said.
"I heard a lot of good things. They're real honest and open to communication. That's something I really looked for."
Ransom will likely begin the season with Triple-A Tucson, insurance for any injuries that might occur to any infielders on the roster. He's played all four infield positions at the Major League level.
• Non-roster pitcher Jason Ray, who didn't throw the first few days of camp because of a tender arm, threw his first bullpen session on Sunday. There's still no timetable as to when Jerry Sullivan, also slowed by a tender arm, will do the same.
• Center fielder Cameron Maybin (sore right wrist) and infielder Logan Forsythe (sore right knee) didn't take part in full drills on Sunday, the second time in as many days they were sidelined. Both had cortisone shots on Saturday and could be back on the field as soon as Monday. Manager Bud Black said Forsythe is "probably a little ahead" of Maybin.
• Black is still not ready to name his Opening Day starting pitcher. Heck, he's not quite willing to reveal who will start in Friday's charity game against the Mariners, the first of 38 exhibitions this spring. However, he could name names as soon as Monday or Tuesday. Because the team is playing so many games, the projected starters who will likely be in the rotation likely won't appear in games in Arizona until the second week or so.