DENVER -- The sample size is still very small, but Padres manager Bud Black said he expect his offense to perform better moving forward than they have in the first four games of the season.
The Padres entered Saturday's game against the Rockies with 10 runs in four games, three of which have ended in losses. They've been limited to two runs on three occasions, and have scored all of four runs in the first seven innings of game thus far.
"As a group, they're not swinging the bats like they're going to," Black said. "But I haven't seen a lot of expanding the strike zone. I'm seeing good at-bats, but the good at-bats aren't resulting in hits."
The Padres are tied for 19th in the Major Leagues in strikeouts (29), so that hasn't been the primary culprit in their slow start. The team has 23 hits in four games, tying them for 27th in the big leagues. Their .222 batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, also ranks 27th in the Majors, a number that is quite unlucky indeed.
"Sooner rather than later, we'll start stringing some hits together," Black said.
Everth's speedy reputation may make thefts harder
DENVER -- Everth Cabrera, the reigning National League stolen base champion, could have a tough time as he goes about trying to replicate the 44 steals he had a year ago.
"He has established himself around the league as a threat," said Padres first base coach Dave Roberts, who works with the team's baserunners.
"The league understands that now. The league understands when he likes to run, so you've got to try and counter that."
Cabrera went into Saturday's game against the Rockies with two stolen bases in as many attempts thus far in 2013. He was picked off once in San Diego's series against the Mets.
Roberts saw a lot of growth in Cabrera's ability to steal a base a year ago, and considers him to be a good basestealer. But Roberts, who stole 243 bases during his 10-year Major League career, would like to see him do more.
"As far as the mechanics, he's gotten so much better; his jumps are great, his acceleration is great, his aggressiveness and willingness to run is right where it should be," Roberts said.
"But I think for him to take it to the next level, he has to do a better job of not being too impatient, the times when he tries to force things as opposed to letting the game come to him. That's running into outs as opposed to letting the hitter take over and do what he's supposed to do."
But can Cabrera -- who was caught only four times in his 48 attempts a year ago -- match the number of steals he had a year ago?
"We still expect to see a lot of what he did last year. But people in this game, they document everything, your habits, like certain counts you like to run on," Roberts said. "He's got to let the game dictate his aggressiveness as opposed to forcing your will on the defense."
Balsley working to help Volquez repeat delivery
DENVER -- Pitching coach Darren Balsley has worked closely with Sunday starter Edinson Volquez, attempting to remedy the mechanical issues that plagued him in his Opening Day start against the Mets.
Volquez allowed six earned runs and three walks in three-plus innings, as the Mets ran away with an 11-2 victory.
Balsley worked with Volquez on two key issues during his side session -- shortening his long stride and also helping him find a steady arm slot to deal from.
"We just wanted to calm down his lower half and get a more consistent arm slot," Balsley said. "With the lower half, it's getting him not to over stride."
To accomplish as much, Balsley had Volquez wear shoes that had plastic spikes and not metal ones, the kind Volquez would normally wear during a start. While the metal spikes provide more firm footing, the plastic ones forced Volquez to really concentrate on his lower half and not over striding.
Balsley said he won't go as far to ask Volquez to wear the plastic spikes in a game, since hasn't done so before. Hopefully, Balsley said, some of the between-start fixes will take hold.
"Hopefully, if he repeats his delivery, he'll be fine," Balsley said.