With hitter-friendly ballparks and high altitudes, the Pacific Coast League can be unforgiving on pitchers.
Right-hander Jeremy Hefner had heard about the league's elements, so he wasn't surprised. In making adjustments, he has worked on his mechanics and has pitched more aggressively with his fastball. He's scheduled to start tonight for the Tucson Padres.
"I just struggled with a mechanical issue at the beginning of the year. My fastball was up, and I think I've got that lined out now," said Hefner, who is San Diego's No. 15 prospect, according to Baseball America. "I like to see how my good stuff goes against the league instead of my not-so-good stuff."
Hefner said he noticed after his second start he was flying open on his right side, which didn't allow him to get on top of the ball, leaving his pitches up. This season is his first extended season in Triple-A - he made a start with Triple-A Portland in 2009 before he spent all of 2010 in Double-A.
"I struggled the first couple starts, so maybe I started throwing off-speed to try to trick people instead of continuing to be aggressive, which is more my style, so I'm trying to get back to that," he said.
Hefner allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings in his start Thursday. He is 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA.
"He's been better the last two times out," Tucson manager Terry Kennedy said. "There's a guy who's being more aggressive with his fastball, which will make his other pitches better."
About the game
In Monday's 10-4 victory over Albuquerque, Anthony Rizzo hit his 11th and 12th home runs - his first since May 7 - on a two-run shot in the first and a three-run shot in the second. Both were to right field. He has 50 RBIs in 36 games.
Rizzo missed the May 10-11 games with a bruised left hand.
"It's still a little sore, but I think it's going to be all right," Kennedy said before the game.
Matt Clark also homered for Tucson, a solo shot for his sixth of the season.
Left-hander Wade LeBlanc allowed three runs, struck out eight and walked two in seven innings.
San Diego Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson went 1 for 2 with three runs and two walks Monday in what was scheduled to be his second and final rehab game with Tucson. He said he'll rehab with High-A Lake Elsinore (Calif.) on Wednesday, and he'll be eligible to come off the DL Thursday. He has been on the 15-day DL for a hamstring strain.
"It was good, had a lot of fun," Hudson said about his 2-for-2 game Sunday with a pair of doubles.
San Diego infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir also continued a rehab stint with Tucson. Batting second behind Hudson and playing shortstop, Hoffpauir went 0 for 3 after he was 0 for 2 Sunday. There is no scheduled end date for his rehab.
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal continued rehabbing with Albuquerque. He went 1 for 3.
• Reliever Pat Neshek is expected to return to the big-league Padres today, while second baseman Logan Forsythe is expected to rejoin Tucson in the corresponding move. Forsythe can play second, short and third for Tucson. The team is expected to get a pitcher when Hudson comes off the DL Thursday.
• Infielder Andy Parrino is expected to rejoin the team for its road trip that begins Thursday. He has been on the DL since April 19 with hamstring and side injuries.
• Who: Albuquerque at Padres
• When: 7 p.m.