Posted February 21, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Jeff Suppan unofficially began his 20th professional baseball season after he threw his first bullpen session on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Suppan, a second-round pick in the 1993 draft by the Boston Red Sox, accepted an invitation to big league camp with the San Diego Padres when they signed him to a minor-league contract. He will compete with Dustin Moseley, Micah Owings and Anthony Bass for the fifth spot in the Padres' starting rotation.
Suppan, 37, was 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for the Kansas City Royals' Triple-A Omaha affiliate last season. But 2011 also marked the first season he hadn't appeared on a major league roster since 1994. Even though he has a World Series ring and a post-baseball career as a restaurateur planned, Suppan said he's having too much fun to retire.
Suppan is 138-143 in his career with a 4.69 ERA. He has pitched for six teams and won a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.
''I'm not going to overanalyze it, I'm a baseball player and I like to play,'' Suppan said. ''That's why I'm here. All these things, retirement, continuing to play, they're all a reality. It could go either way. There's an opportunity here. I'm here and we'll see what happens.''
Pitching coach Darren Balsley said Suppan isn't just in camp to give the Padres depth. Nor is he with the team to mentor a talented crop of minor-league pitchers.
''He's a great veteran presence, and by the way he can still pitch,'' Balsley said.
Suppan can opt out of the contract on June 15 if he isn't in the majors. But for now, Suppan said he's enjoying bullpen sessions and being around his teammates.
''They said there was an opportunity,'' Suppan said. ''How great, they really couldn't say. But they did say there was an opportunity to come to camp and show what I can do. We'll see what happens and I'm OK with that.''
BEST OF MAXIM
The nice thing about spring training being here is that you begin to really get to know the new players that have joined the team. On twitter you can follow Corey Brock (@followthepadres) and he has pictures and videos of the guys working out. Also all the big writers are introducing the masses to the new players so that come opening day you aren't sitting in your seat saying...
Catcher John Baker arrived in camp last weekend with a pretty good idea of how he'll go about learning an entirely new pitching staff.
Third baseman Chase Headley showed up at the Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday, well ahead of Friday's report date for position players.
Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said that he was impressed with the bullpen session that left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard tossed Tuesday. Richard missed the second half of last season after having arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.
Pitchers and catchers have started working out today. All over the internet I have seen pictures and videos of arms being loosened up and legs being stretched. It's a great sight to see all these guys getting ready for the upcoming season. As of right now only pitchers and catchers are required to be at camp. However, there are position players showing up as well, which is always...
Right-handed pitcher Dustin Moseley cautiously takes first swings with surgically repaired left shoulder
This spring, Padres reliever Joe Thatcher has his eye on a clean bill of health from the start of camp to the finish, as his surgically repaired left shoulder -- a procedure done last May -- has responded well to early work.
When asked Wednesday to summarize his first season with the Padres, Orlando Hudson provided a quick and rather succinct response. "It wasn't fun," Hudson said. "It wasn't fun at all."
From 2009 until July 31, 2011, the Padres had the best bullpen ERA in the Major Leagues (2.79). Flash forward to 2012 and the Padres have two new faces at the back end of the bullpen with Andrew Cashner and Huston Street.
Like an accomplished actor playing a familiar part, Nick Hundley has developed the confidence to stray from the script.
The first workout of spring went off without a hitch Monday, as manager Bud Black and his staff -- as well as several front-office folks -- watched pitchers throw off the mound for the first time.