PEORIA, Ariz. -- When guest instructor and 1976 National League Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones arrived at Padres camp early this month, he came with a preconceived notion that he's more than pleased to admit was incorrect.
"I have found that the players are a little more relaxed and still have fun playing the game, more than I thought," Jones said Tuesday. "I was a little worried about that. But after a couple weeks, I feel better about it. It's still a game to them. I was afraid it was getting too serious like a business."
Jones is inching closer to the end of his two-week stint in Peoria with the team. It's the first time that he has been in Spring Training and in a full uniform since 1982, his final year in the Major Leagues, one that included an eight-year stint with the Padres (1973-80).
Jones said he's having a blast.
"It's been phenomenal," he said. "What a great experience."
After a week of watching drills and sitting in the dugout during games, Jones has progressed to making a handful of suggestions to pitchers, several who weren't even born the last time he appeared in a Major League game.
"Being around for a while, being in uniform, I think they're a little more comfortable now that I'm in my second week here," he said. "It's mostly been simple suggestions as far as approach, especially for the starters. I leave the mechanical stuff to [pitching coach] Darren Balsley, he does a great job.
"Overall, it's the mental approach where I can help them."
Jones has found at least one apt pupil in Minor League right-hander Donn Roach, a sinkerballer like Jones was during his career, when he worked fast and buried the ball in the strike zone, especially during the 1976 season when he won 22 games and the Cy Young.
But Jones isn't here to impart a do-as-I-do mantra to pitchers.
"I've been there, done that, won a Cy Young Award and I know what it takes mentally," Jones said. "And on the other side of the coin, I've lost 22 games in a season . Don't tell me I don't know both sides of the game.
"I feel like I can talk with some realism to a lot of these kids."
Garcia delivers best audition yet for job with Padres
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Freddy Garcia turned in his finest performance of Cactus League play on Tuesday night, as he struck out five of the first six batters he faced against the Giants.
Garcia, who entered the game with a 13.50 ERA in three games, allowed one run over four innings in a game played at Scottsdale Stadium.
In competition for a spot in the starting rotation, Garcia allowed one run on three hits in four innings. He finished with six strikeouts and walked one batter. He didn't allow a hit until the third inning when pinch-hitter Johnny Monell hit a solo home run.
"We've seen the success of the secondary pitches down below the strike zone with a lot of action," Padres manager Bud Black said of Garcia. "It's a deceptive arm speed that can create a lack of timing for the hitters.
"[Tonight] he got ahead and put them away."
Entering Tuesday's game against the Giants, Garcia had allowed 10 earned runs on 12 hits in his first 6 2/3 innings of the spring.
Black said earlier Tuesday that the team was looking at the possibility that Garcia could make the team in long relief.
Garcia is in camp on a Minor League contract that would pay him $1.3 million if he makes the team. He could earn an additional $1.1 million based on the number of starts he makes.
The top four spots in the Padres' starting rotation are essentially spoken for -- Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Jason Marquis and Eric Stults. The race for the No. 5 spot is realistically down to Garcia, Tyson Ross, Tim Stauffer and Anthony Bass.
De Los Santos sent to Minor League camp
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres continue to thin the room in big league camp, as on Tuesday they optioned right-handed reliever Fautino De Los Santos to Triple-A Tucson.
The Padres now have 56 players in big league camp, down from the 67 they had last month.
De Los Santos, claimed off waivers from the Brewers in February, appeared in three Cactus League games, compiling a 6.75 ERA in four innings.
Now that Minor League players have reported to camp and with their games beginning on Friday, pitchers like De Los Santos will be able to get more innings on the Minor League side. In fact, of the 11 players the team has either optioned or reassigned to Minor League camp, seven are pitchers.
The Padres don't break camp in Arizona until after a game on March 28 against the Indians. They will then play two exhibition games in San Antonio against the Rangers before heading to New York for Opening Day on April 1, so there's still plenty of time to get the roster to 25.