Veteran reliever Stauffer sees nothing but new faces
From free agents Johnson and Benoit to trade addition Torres, it's a new look for SD
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's been a while, though Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer can still remember what it was like to set foot in the clubhouse in Peoria for his first big league Spring Training.
"We had guys like Trevor [Hoffman], [Ryan] Klesko and [Phil] Nevin, some older players," Stauffer said of big league camp in 2004. "I think it really set in when I first saw them on the field, in full game speed was pretty amazing to see … especially when that's your first taste of pro ball.
"We had a much older team than the one we do now."
Stauffer, 31, probably felt like the elder statesman Thursday when pitchers and catchers reported to the team's renovated Spring Training facility in Peoria for physicals.
"For our team, I'm one of the older guys," Stauffer said.
The first workout for pitchers and catchers is set for Friday. Position players report to camp on Tuesday with the first full-squad workout set for the next day.
"From then , it's been a while since there's been anyone [from that team], but there's a few guys here still, Nick [Hundley], Will [Venable] and Chase [Headley] who have been around here for a while," Stauffer said. "It's crazy with the turnover you see in the game that I've been with the same team for as long as I have."
To be sure, it was not only a young clubhouse but one brimming with new faces that greeted Stauffer as well as others on Thursday.
The Padres added free-agent pitchers Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit and also traded for pitchers Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn. Patrick Schuster was acquired from the Astros in the Rule 5 Draft.
There were several Minor League free agents who have been added who could crack the roster, such as Blaine Boyer, Anthony Carter and Tony Sipp. All are newcomers to the organization.
Torres is expected to be the only pitcher or catcher not in camp on Friday. He is said to be experiencing visa issues in his native Venezuela and likely won't report until next week, general manager Josh Byrnes said on Thursday.
Hahn, 24, is in his first big league camp. He was acquired with Torres from the Rays last month as part of a seven-player deal between the two teams. So not only is he still trying to digest the deal, moving from the only organization he's ever known, but he's also adjusting to being in a clubhouse with strangers.
Put it this way: Hahn shook a lot of hands on Thursday.
"I'm excited. It's a new opportunity with a new organization," Hahn said. "Baseball is baseball and I think baseball players all get along. I think once I get out there and start practicing and build relationships on the field then that will carry over to the locker room."
The Padres will play their first Cactus League game, their annual charity game against the Mariners, on Feb. 27 at the Peoria Sports Complex.
The Padres, coming off consecutive 76-win seasons, will take the first steps toward what they hope will be their first postseason berth since 2006 on Friday. The optimism is already running high.
"When you bring in All-Star-caliber players, it's kind of a 180 from what we've done in the past, where we were trading guys like Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy," said Padres catcher Nick Hundley. "When you bring in Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit, it will do nothing but inject excitement into the franchise."