A Healthy Start

Tate eager to being a full season

PEORIA, Ariz.—Donavan Tate had a franchise-record $6.25 million signing bonus tucked safely away and was eager to launch his professional career.

But he was submarined before he left the dock. Tate was diagnosed with a sports hernia two days after reporting to the organization's spring training complex in Arizona last summer. That forced the No. 3 pick in last June's draft to miss the rest of the minor league season as well as instructional league in October.

Then in late November, he suffered a broken jaw in an ATV accident while at home in Georgia.

To make up for lost time, Tate, an outfielder, was among 27 young prospects who arrived early in Arizona for special instruction with new field coordinator Randy Johnson.

Tate even spent 10 days in San Diego before reporting to Arizona to make sure he was ready.

As bad as 2009 ended, Tate was upbeat when he arrived in Arizona, considering himself lucky to not have been more seriously injured in the ATV accident.

"I'm not too concerned about the jaw," Tate said. "Everything is healed. I'm 100 percent healthy. I'm putting things behind me. I'm not concerned with the past, things like the hernia and the ATV accident. I'm ready to move forward."

This camp will help determine where the Padres place Tate when the season starts.
The likelihood of him making a full-season team were slim. So he'll probably stay in extended spring training and end up with short-season Eugene in the Northwest League or stick around Peoria for the Rookie-level Arizona League.

"Last year was a little bit of a setback," Tate said. "With the surgery, I didn't get a chance to play in any games. So this is helping me kind of get back in the swing of things."


• Radhames Liz, a hard-throwing righthander who was claimed on waivers from the
Orioles in November, allowed six runs on 10 hits in his first 5 innings of work in spring training. The Padres consider Liz a low-risk, high-reward prospect.

• Righthander Ernesto Frieri was an injury victim early in camp, suffering a groin strain during a bullpen session. Frieri isn't a candidate to make the big league club, but Padres officials are anxious to see him perform after a good season at Double-A San Antonio.