PEORIA, Ariz. -- Third baseman Chase Headley put his surgically repaired left knee to work Wednesday and Thursday as Padres position players joined pitchers and catchers for the first two full-squad workouts of Spring Training.
Headley, who had arthroscopic surgery on the knee after last season, said his knee felt better almost immediately following the procedure and he was able to conduct his winter workouts on time and without restriction.
"Right now, it feels great," Headley said. "I think anytime that you have a surgery, you will have some soreness, but for the most part, it feels great and much better than it has in a year at least."
A switch-hitter, Headley said he would occasionally feel soreness in the knee last season when he was hitting from the left side.
"But it wasn't like it was part of the problem," he said.
A year after leading the league in RBIs in 2012, Headley fractured the tip of his left thumb in March last year, causing him to miss the first 14 games of the season. He also dealt with a stiff back and the pain in his left knee that flared up on occasion.
Headley said he felt the worst in terms of his knee in September, which was actually his best month of the season, hitting .305 with five home runs and 14 RBIs.
"It was just a little cranky some days, and some days it didn't feel too bad. There wasn't one move that necessarily made it worse. It was a matter of dealing with it," he said.
Headley is prepared for days this spring and during the regular season where he'll encounter some level of stiffness in the knee, but he's been told that's perfectly normal after surgery.
"Most guys who have this surgery will tell you for a year, you'll have days where you're stiff and sore, but once you get up and get moving, it gets better," Headley said. "I really haven't had any issues. I was able to do everything I wanted to do in the offseason."
Gale trades in tool belt for catcher's gear
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There are any number of reasons why Padres catching prospect Rocky Gale was excited to get to Arizona for the start of Spring Training.
For starters, Gale is in his first big league camp with the team. Also, he's escaped the wet and wintry weather of his native Oregon, where he spent most of the offseason outside, working construction in the Portland area.
"This was my first year doing it," Gale said on Thursday. "It was really an eye opener for me. That's such a different world than I'm used to. I've never done anything like that. In my family, if something breaks, then you call a plumber … or my mom would be under the sink trying to fix it."
But because baseball is a seasonal job, Gale, 25, decided to supplement his income with construction work, contacting a friend and a former teammate at the University of Portland, Riley Henricks. Hendricks' father, Jim, owns BDZ Construction, based in Washington.
"I did it for just over three months," said Gale, who was a 24th-round Draft pick in 2010. "I would work on residential apartments and housing, putting in sewage lines, water lines. I would do erosion control, spreading hay over acres and acres. We would also grout manholes.
In four seasons in the Padres' system, Gale has a modest .224/.264/.269 batting line, but he is regarded as a very strong defensive catcher. He hit .246 in 2013 with Double-A San Antonio.
To be sure, he's glad to be back playing baseball this spring. He wouldn't rule out a return to working in construction again, though.
"It was interesting to see how things get put together. It was a lot of hard work. It made me appreciate baseball a little more," Gale said.
Torres remains in Venezuela awaiting visa
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Another Spring Training workout passed Thursday without an Alex Torres sighting, though Padres manager Bud Black said he wasn't overly worried about the left-handed reliever's delayed start to camp.
Torres remains in his native Venezuela because he had to apply for a new visa since his employer changed last month when he was traded from the Rays to the Padres.
There's still a chance Torres could arrive this weekend, though next week is a safer bet. The Padres will open Cactus League play on Feb. 27, but Black said there's still plenty of time for Torres to get his work in before the team breaks camp the last week of March.
"He has the window of time to get ready for the start of the season," Black said. "From the physical side, we're still in good shape."
If Torres was still a starting pitcher -- as he was in the Minor Leagues -- that might give Black and the staff some cause for concern.
"Those guys in the rotation, those starting pitchers, need the full six weeks," Black said.