Padres Give Hunter A Shot

Outfield prospect spends a few days in the big leagues





SAN DIEGO—Cedric Hunter came into spring training wanting to make an impression and wipe out the memories of a mediocre 2009 season.
He did much more than that.

Hunter hit .357 in 18 spring games with 10 RBIs and played solid defense in center field. He was rewarded with a spot on the Opening Day roster when Padres manager Bud Black, seeking to balance out a predominantly righthanded lineup, chose the lefthanded-hitting Hunter over righthanded-hitting Aaron Cunningham.

Hunter didn't stick around long. He was optioned to Triple-A Tucson on April 10 when utlityman Eric Patterson came off the disabled list. He  went 1-for-4 with a walk. His first major league hit came against Giants righthander Guillermo Mota in the Padres' home opener.

Hunter, 23, was hitting .256/.340/.302 in 43 at-bats since arriving in Tucson, and hopes to continue to build off a solid 2010 campaign, when he hit .308/.375/.423 in 279 at-bats with Double-A San Antonio before batting .263/.305/.370 in Triple-A.

Black isn't afraid to use everyone on his roster. So despite not having any major league experience, Hunter got a shot to play.

"When I called my dad and told him I made the Opening Day roster, he thought I was joking with him," said Hunter, a third-round pick out of high school in Georgia in 2006. "I had to convince him I had really made it."

FATHER FIGURES

• The three prospects involved in the Adrian Gonzalez trade to the Red Sox each got off to good starts. First baseman Anthony Rizzo was leading the Pacific Coast League with a .458 average and 22 RBIs. Righthander Casey Kelly had a 3.48 ERA after his first two starts at San Antonio and outfielder Reymond Fuentes was hitting .303/.333/.379 with high Class A Lake Elsinore.

• Righthander Keyvius Sampson, a fourth-round pick in 2009, threw six perfect innings in his season debut at low Class A Fort Wayne and was 2-1, 1.69 in his first three starts.