Third-rounder Verbitsky among 20 to sign with Padres
Hofstra righty celebrates 21st birthday with first professional contract
SAN DIEGO -- Chances are good that Padres Draft pick Bryan Verbitsky will never forget his 21st birthday.
"I got to spend my birthday signing my first professional contract," Verbitsky said by phone late Tuesday from Arizona.
Verbitsky, a right-handed pitcher and the team's third-round pick out of Hofstra University, was one just of 20 players from the recent First-Year Player Draft to sign with San Diego on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Verbitsky and a handful of his new teammates flew from Phoenix to Eugene, Ore., to prepare to play for the Eugene Emeralds, the Padres' short-season Class A affiliate.
Verbitsky spent Monday in San Diego taking his physical and having fish tacos downtown. He then went to Arizona, where the team is temporarily training in Surprise while construction is being done on a new Spring Training facility in nearby Peoria.
"I'm extremely excited to see what this next chapter of my life brings," Verbitsky said.
The Emeralds open their season at home on Friday against Boise. Verbitsky figures to be in the team's starting rotation.
Other players who signed contracts Tuesday were: OF Mason Smith (fourth round), RHP Adam Cimber (ninth), RHP Justin Livengood (10th), LHP Erik Schoenrock (11th), OF Rod Boykin (12th), C Ryan Miler (14th), C Tyler Dial (15th), LHP Payton Baskette (16th), 1B Trae Santos (17th), LHP Brandon Fry (18th), C Michael Miller (20th), INF Chase Jensen (22nd), RHP Chris Long (23rd), RHP Josh Richardson (26th), INF Michael Bass (27th), RHP Kyle Lloyd (29th), RHP Max Beatty (32nd), LHP Jeffery Enloe (37th) and RHP Pete Kelich (38th).
Thatcher bounces back to record two key whiffs
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't a good stretch of outings last weekend in Denver for Padres left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, who allowed a walk-off home run in one game and a game-winning hit in another.
"When you struggle, you go to bed at night not feeling good about yourself," Thatcher said.
Thatcher didn't have to wait long for a shot at redemption, as he struck out Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann for the first two outs of the ninth inning in the Padres' 3-2 victory over the Braves on Tuesday. Luke Gregerson came in to face righty Dan Uggla, striking him out to end the game.
As for Thatcher, who has a 1.96 ERA in 32 appearances, it was all part of the territory that goes with being a left-handed specialist.
"We always say you need to have a short memory as a reliever," Thatcher said. "I made one mistake in Denver, but I just knew the way I've been throwing, good things would happen. I had to forget the last few outings. I want the ball."
On Tuesday, Thatcher got Freeman with a fastball and got McCann with a sweeping slider before being replaced.
"I knew they were going to be aggressive," Thatcher said of the Braves. "That's a good team over there."
How good was Thatcher's stuff?
"The slider to McCann was the best slider he's thrown all year," said catcher Nick Hundley.
Taking Maybin's spot, Decker gets first call to bigs
SAN DIEGO -- As soon as Jaff Decker got to his locker in the Padres' clubhouse Wednesday morning, various teammates kept coming up to him to congratulate him -- and comment on his long hair.
When Decker's name was missing from the Padres' lineup card, veteran Mark Kotsay took the liberty to add it in red marker.
The club recalled Decker, an outfielder, from Triple-A Tucson, for the first time in his career.
"It's a great feeling coming in here and being welcomed like that," Decker said of all the affection he received.
The 23-year old left-hander -- pronounced Jeff, and spelled like his uncle, who passed away in the military -- hit .240 this season in the Minors, with five homers and 20 RBIs.
Decker got 40 at-bats in Spring Training and had a batting average of .175 with one home run, five RBIs and 11 strikeouts, which he said could help him.
"Just getting used to big league pitching and being around the guys learning a lot," Decker said.
Decker got the call late Tuesday night around midnight. His dad, mom, sister and some friends all made the trip from Arizona for Wednesday's game against the Braves.
He replaces outfielder Cameron Maybin, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. However, Maybin is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks after he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Sunday.
"We needed an outfielder, and I think it was time-related with Tucson being in Fresno [on Tuesday] and what we found out about Cam," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He [Decker] can play defense and give us another player on the bench. Without Cam, we were down to a four-man bench."
Maybin was hitting .157 with one home run and five RBIs in 51 at-bats this season, and had previously missed 45 games with a right wrist impingement.
"It's frustrating for Cam," Black said. "Out of the chute, he didn't get off to a good start and then the wrist was a problem. Then he was finally starting to feel better where he was physically. He was ready to get into his season. This has been a tough first half for Cam."
Padres to honor 1998 NL champions Friday
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres will honor the 1998 National League championship team at Friday's game against the D-backs at Petco Park.
Nineteen players and coaches from the '98 team are scheduled to take part in the celebration, which will include a pregame ceremony and an in-game tribute. They'll also sign autographs at Park at the Park from 5:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. PT, open to anyone with tickets to Friday's game.
The members from that NL championship team scheduled to attend include: Andy Ashby, Brian Boehringer, Kevin Brown, Archi Cianfrocco, Ben Davis, Ed Giovanola, Chris Gomez, Tony Gwynn, Joey Hamilton, Carlos Hernandez, Sterling Hitchcock, Jim Leyritz, Mark Merila, Merv Rettenmund, Stan Spencer, Mark Sweeney, Greg Vaughn, Quilvio Veras and Donne Wall.
Hitchcock, the MVP of the NL Championship Series, will throw out the first pitch to Hernandez, who was a catcher on the team.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.