Tucson Padres: Sampson weathers growing pains on mound

2013-04-16T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: Sampson weathers growing pains on moundKyle Johnson Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Padres pitcher Keyvius Sampson was ready for his first career Triple-A start. Mother Nature had other plans.

Instead of the bright, sunny weather he grew up with in Ocala, Fla., Sampson took the mound April 8 in Colorado Springs with the wind howling, dirt swirling and temperatures dropping as low as 31 degrees.

"I would have loved for it to be 90 degrees with the sun beating down, but I have to go out there and pitch with what I was given," Sampson said before Monday night's game against the Fresno Grizzlies.

"You have to go out there and be able to pitch in any kind of weather. They do it in the big leagues; you have to do it down here."

Sampson lasted only 2 1/3 innings, with the 50-plus-mph winds affecting both him and Colorado Springs' starter Aaron Cook. The conditions became so bad that umpires called the game in the fifth inning, giving Tucson the 14-3 win.

Tucson Padres manager Pat Murphy said the adverse conditions made his first start very memorable. Sampson's second start might be one to forget.

On a much milder Tucson afternoon, 10 Grizzles reached base during Sampson's four innings of work. The 22-year-old pitcher exited Sunday's game with two runners in scoring position and Fresno leading 4-3. The Padres went on to lose 11-6.

"I think it's just me trying to do too much and giving the batters too much credit," Sampson said. "I just have to go out there and continue to do what got me here, and that's attacking the zone and being aggressive toward hitters."

Sampson is a consensus top-10 prospect in the Padres organization, but he was just average with the Double-A San Antonio Missions last season, gathering a 5.00 ERA in 122 1/3 innings of work. Murphy said his young pitcher will have to struggle through a year of the hitter-friendly ballparks of the Pacific Coast League before his true potential blossoms.

"He can get on a roll and be unhittable for a few innings," Murphy said. "You have to live with him getting through these growing pains, but once he gets his confidence you'll see more of his strengths coming out."

That's the long-term plan, though. Right now Sampson said he only has two things on his mind - building up his stamina and pitching with more consistency.

Lasting a combined 6 1/3 innings in his first two outings isn't exactly the production an aspiring major leaguer should have. But Murphy said building up his stamina is a walk, not a sprint, and he and catcher Jason Hagerty will continue to work with Sampson.

"He's still young, he's still learning," Hagerty said about Sampson. "He has a lot of room to improve. But, I think with the attitude he has, he will."

A few more sunny days won't hurt Sampson, either.

Today

• Who: Salt Lake at Tucson

• When: 7:05 p.m.

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