PEORIA, Ariz. -- Five things to know about the San Diego Padres:
1. Right fielder Brian Giles, who underwent surgery to repair a microfracture in his right knee in October, says he is ahead of schedule and hopes to be ready for opening day. Giles is scheduled to play in his first Cactus League game on March 15, and the race will be on from there. "I'm still not out of the woods, but I'm anticipating playing in games down here soon," Giles says. "Hopefully, that checks out. And if that checks out, I'm good to go."
2. With Giles' knee uncertain in right, center fielder Jim Edmonds nursing a small tear in his left calf and the club's left-field situation uncertain to begin with, the biggest concern around here is how the outfield will line up. For now, general manager Kevin Towers discounts a possible trade (Boston's
3. The Padres ranked 15th in the NL with a .322 team on-base percentage in 2007, a figure that Headley -- whose OBP was .437 at Double-A San Antonio last summer -- can only help improve. What saved the Padres last season is a pitching staff that led the majors with a 3.70 ERA. Jake Peavy was the unanimous NL Cy Young winner, and he, Greg Maddux and Chris Young again will lead a rotation that also could include rehabbing veteran Randy Wolf, Glendon Rusch or, maybe in June, Mark Prior. "He looks healthy, ready to go," catcher Josh Bard says of Wolf, who underwent September shoulder surgery. "I like his toughness. He's a guy who pitches with a little chip on his shoulder."
4. His rookie season in the rear-view mirror and a remarkable comeback (from a .113 batting average in April to .275 by season's end) in the books, third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff is far more relaxed this spring, which he hopes leads to more good things. "Last year after I was traded (from Cleveland), there was an expectation right at the start," Kouzmanoff says. "There were some shoes to be filled, and I was coming into the organization as a new guy and nobody knew me and I didn't know anybody. It was my first big league camp. I'm more confident this year, more comfortable."
5. The names of some young phenoms are beginning to pop up on the Padres' radar, names like Headley, second baseman Matt Antonelli and pitcher Wade LeBlanc. This year's Padres should be deeper than last year's club. "The depth really is our young kids at the upper levels of our farm system that we're ready to draw from," Towers says. "We feel we're where Colorado, Arizona and maybe Los Angeles was a year or two ago, with the (Matt) Kemps and (Andy) LaRoches, good players coming up and knocking on the door. This is the first time since I've been here that we have a handful of legitimate major league prospects that are close."