PEORIA, Ariz. -- Signed by San Diego in 2011 after two independent league seasons, catcher Eddy Rodriguez broke into the big leagues for a short, but sweet nine days last year after Yasmani Grandal went on the disabled list. Now back alongside Major Leaguers as a non-roster invitee in camp, Rodriguez is showing what kind of value he brings to the organization, even though he will all but certainly begin the season in the Minors.
"Where Eddy is in his career, he gives us a lot of protection at where he is," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's a good fundamentally sound catcher, he can throw and he's got a great attitude. He understands the pitcher-catcher relationship and you need guys like Eddy. He still has a desire to be a Major League player."
The 27-year-old Rodriguez was catching with Class A Lake Elsinore on July 31 when he got the call to San Diego. In his first Major League at-bat, he smacked a home run off Reds ace Johnny Cueto, becoming the second Padres player to hit a homer in his first at-bat. Pitcher Dave Eiland also did so in 1992.
"You don't see that often," said Black about Rodriguez being promoted from Class A. "It takes a player with a lot of self-confidence to not be bothered at being in A ball at 27. We know wherever Eddy is, if something happens, he can come to the big leagues and handle himself."
Garcia battles command; Kelly comfortable
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Battling for backend starting rotation spots, Padres pitchers Freddy Garcia and Casey Kelly took the mound Friday against the Dodgers, hoping to bounce back from poor performances in their first outings.
Garcia, who allowed five runs (four earned) over an inning of work in his first appearance, got the start, this time tossing 2 2/3 frames. The 36-year-old cruised through the first inning, retiring the side in order, including Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who was making his spring debut.
In the second inning, however, Garcia ran into trouble, hitting Adrian Gonzalez and walking Jerry Hairston Jr. to put the first two batters on base. Later in the frame, Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis both produced RBI hits.
Garcia, who went 7-6 with a 5.20 ERA in 107 1/3 innings with the Yankees last year, gave up two more base knocks in the third inning before Hanley Ramirez stole home on a double steal, and Kelly replaced him on the mound with two on and two out.
In throwing 56 pitches (37 strikes), Garcia finished his afternoon allowing three runs on four hits.
"I thought Freddy's secondary pitches were pretty good, but I think probably the fastball command he'd like to continue to improve on as the spring goes," Padres manager Bud Black said after his club's 7-5 victory.
After getting a flyout to end the third, Kelly proceeded to throw two more innings, surrendering a hit, a walk and a run. On the day, the 23-year-old threw 32 pitches (21 strikes).
"Every time out I feel more comfortable. I left a couple balls up, but even when I was missing, it was relatively down," Kelly said. "I had my changeup and curveball working, so it was good to have a full set of pitches to go out and compete."
Kelly is the Padres' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB.com. He made six starts for San Diego last year, going 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA over 29 innings. The 23-year-old missed most of 2012 though with an elbow strain, but he said he's feeling healthy.
"Arm has been feeling great, haven't had any setbacks or anything like that," Kelly said. "The care we've been doing is really helping."
Before Friday, Kelly struggled in his first appearance of the spring, allowing three runs on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings.
"It's tough. You want to compete and get everybody out, but at the same time, you have to take a step back," Kelly said. "Last time out was my first time facing live hitters, so you know it's a long Spring Training and you'll have a lot of opportunities to show what you can do."
• Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is on track to play in his first Spring Training game in a week to 10 days, manager Bud Black said on Friday.
The 30-year-old is coming off a season in which he missed the first 49 games because of knee surgery in March. Quentin had another minor surgery on the same knee in October.
The outfielder finished the 2012 season with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs in 86 games.
"He's hitting off pitchers, hitting off coaches, getting his hacks in, he's just not there for game activity yet," Black said. "He's OK, he's on pace. But even if it's a little later, that's still OK."
When Quentin does make his debut, Black added it could be in the designated hitter slot to ease him in a bit.
• Former Padres pitcher Randy Jones arrived at camp on Friday to help work with the team.
"He's here for a couple weeks, he'll put his eyes on our guys," Black said. "He's pumped for it, he hasn't been in a uniform since 1983. It's cool to have these great ex-Padres here."
Jones won the 1976 National League Cy Young Award with San Diego and had his number retired by the organization in 1997.
• A day after tossing a scoreless inning in his first outing of the spring, Padres righty Tim Stauffer reported feeling fine, with no ill effects.
Stauffer made only one start last year before undergoing surgery on his pitching elbow.
The Padres removed lefty Jose De Paula from the restricted list Friday and transferred right-hander Joe Wieland to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.