PEORIA, Ariz. -- First-year Padres bullpen coach Willie Blair has had his hands full learning a new job and learning a whole new set of pitchers this spring.
But there are a few pitchers in camp that Blair is very familiar with from his work the last two seasons as pitching coach for the Padres' Class A affiliate in the Midwest League, the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
"I've got to be honest, I'm really nervous when they go out there," said Blair, talking about pitcher Matt Stites, Johnny Barbato and Adys Portillo.
"I want them to do so well. When you're coaching these kids, you almost look at them like they're your sons. You want them to have a good experience and when it doesn't go well, it hurts you."
Blair, 47, pitched for eight teams over parts of 12 Major League seasons, including the 1995-96 seasons with the Padres.
He replaced Jimmy Jones, who was the interim bullpen coach for part of 2012 after Darrel Akerfelds lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last June.
This spring has offered Blair a crash course in getting to know the Padres' pitching staff.
"I'm just trying to learn each individual pitcher, learn their strength and weaknesses, how they go about their business and really talking a lot to [pitching coach Darren Balsley] to see what I can learn with him. ... Really, it's getting reacquainted with the big league game again," Blair said.
"It's figuring out what's expected of me. Really, most of Spring Training, I've been in the dugout to get a good feel for each pitcher. In the next week or so, I'll go out to the bullpen and getting used to game situations, getting guys ready."
Blair is thankful for the opportunity the Padres and Randy Smith, the team's vice president of player development and international scouting, gave him. So far, this has been a spring unlike any Blair has been a part of, which is saying something considering his playing career began in 1986.
"The coaching staff has made me feel welcome and the whole staff has made it fun," he said. "Of all the Spring Trainings I've been to, this is the most fun I've experienced. These guys get their work in, but they have fun doing it."
Quentin, Cashner close to making spring debuts
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two notable players in big league camp could be closing in on their first appearances in Cactus League games, Padres manager Bud Black said Tuesday.
Outfielder Carlos Quentin, who had knee surgery in October, could appear in a spring game next week, Black said.
"There's no schedule ... we haven't mapped it out, but maybe a week," Black said.
Black noted that while Quentin's knee is sound, he still needs to do some baserunning drills. He's been able to take batting practice since arriving in Peoria last month.
Ideally, Black said, he'd like for Quentin to get between 40-60 at-bats this spring. There's still plenty of time, given the Padres don't break camp until March 28 before playing two more exhibition games the last weekend of March in San Antonio against the Rangers.
Black said Quentin would be used as a designated hitter as well as in the outfield.
Pitcher Andrew Cashner, who suffered a lacerated tendon in his right thumb in December, has thrown several bullpen sessions and will do the same either Thursday or Friday.
Cashner, who has said several times he hopes to be ready by Opening Day, could appear in a game next week as well. The Padres envision Cashner as a starter, so he'll still need to build his endurance from the one inning he'll likely throw once he gets into a game.
• Former Padres Minor League infielder Ray Chang knocked in two runs for Team China in its 5-2 win Tuesday over Brazil in the World Baseball Classic. Chang, who was signed by the Padres as an undrafted free agent in 2005, played parts of four seasons in the system, advancing to Triple-A Portland in 2007 and again in 2008. Chang hit .364 in three games with three RBIs as China went 1-2 in pool play.
• Infielder Logan Forsythe has been taking ground balls at second base and shortstop in practice and has played both position in games. The Padres asked him in January to start taking fly balls, which he did at Petco Park with first-base coach Dave Roberts. He's done some of that in drills in Arizona, but the focus has been on his infield work. "There's still improvement he needs to make," said manager Bud Black, who also said Forsythe could see time in the outfield at some point in games.
• Relief pitchers Nick Vincent and Brandon Kloess are sidelined with injuries. Vincent has a sore right forearm, which occurred after his first and only relief appearance of the spring on Feb. 28, when he tossed a scoreless inning against the Royals. Kloess had a sore left hamstring. To date, he's allowed three earned runs in his first three innings, though he hasn't pitched since Feb. 28. Also, infielder/outfielder James Darnell (strained right oblique) is getting closer to returning to games, Black said.
• The Padres are down to 65 players in big league camp after the team reassigned catcher Jason Hagerty to Minor League camp. Hagerty appeared in nine games, at catcher and first base, and had one hit in nine at-bats. On Sunday, the team reassigned pitcher Jerry Sullivan to Minor League camp.