Top Prospects: Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After facing live hitters for the first time in a year, Padres pitcher Casey Kelly stopped to sign a handful of autographs and take a few pictures with fans on Saturday.

He smiled the entire time.

"It's definitely the best day I've had so far," Kelly said.

Kelly, not even 12 months removed from having Tommy John surgery, took a notable step forward when he threw for eight minutes (32 pitches) off a mound and against hitters.

Kelly threw fastballs and changeups to Chase Headley and Yasmani Grandal on a back field at the team's Spring Training facility. Afterward, he was beaming.

"Getting back on the mound, getting the thought process of being back on the mound, facing hitters ... the good thing about today was I didn't really think about the elbow," Kelly said. "I was thinking about pitching. That's the best thing possible. It's definitely a good step in the right direction."

Depending on how he feels Sunday, Kelly will likely throw live batting practice every five days here with the occasional bullpen session mixed in. Kelly said he could throw between "three and four" more live batting practice sessions before moving into a simulated game or possibly a Minor League game.

To be sure, this was a good start.

"I really wanted to work on locating my fastball with the hitter in there. With the changeup, I'm getting more comfortable with the grip and getting the feel back," he said. "The changeup is a feel pitch for me, so the more I throw it the more comfortable I get."

Kelly -- who had reconstructive surgery on his elbow last April 2 -- is determined to be pitching in real games sometime in April, even if that's in the Minor Leagues on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

"At some point in time, I will be a real baseball player in a real game throwing against hitters," he said, smiling.

Cashner gets work in against Triple-A squad

Andrew Cashner on developing into a pitcher

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Depending on your perspective Saturday, Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner allowed either one run or zero runs in a start for the club's Triple-A squad.

Cashner started against the Rangers' Triple-A team so that he wouldn't face the Dodgers in his regularly scheduled Cactus League start.

The assumption is the Padres want to keep Cashner from facing the team he will likely face on Opening Day on March 30, even though manager Bud Black hasn't named him as the starter.

At any rate, Cashner allowed five hits over 5 2/3 innings and left after 73 pitches feeling good about his slider and changeup, but not necessarily about the last batter he faced, Rangers' Minor Leaguer John Brown.

After retiring the first two batters of the sixth inning, Brown lifted a high fly ball to deep center field that appeared to bounce on the warning track and then over the fence. Brown, however, kept on running -- despite the protests from the Padres' dugout.

The Minor League umpire crew conferred briefly before sticking to the original call -- a home run.

"It was interesting," Cashner said afterwards, smiling. "I guess that's the way it goes down in the Minor Leagues. If they want to call it a home run, he can call it a home run.

"I don't let it get me worked up. But if it was in-season in the big leagues ... it would have been a little different story, but we have replay."

That was the last batter Cashner faced, as he wasn't to throw more than 75 pitches. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter. Cashner got seven ground-ball outs, including two double-play balls in the second and fifth innings on two-seam fastballs.

"I threw a lot of sliders, a lot of changeups, I haven't thrown a lot of those recently. It was a day where I threw five changeups in a row today. It was trying to get a feel for the pitches," Cashner said. "When I got into some trouble, I was able to go in and get the ground ball I like to get.

"I feel right where I want to be."

Cashner hasn't allowed a run in a Cactus League game in nine innings.

Padres trim to 47 with round of roster cuts

SD@MIL: Noel ropes an inside-the-park home run

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres on Saturday trimmed the number of players in camp to 47.

The team optioned outfielder Rey Fuentes to Triple-A El Paso and also reassigned right-handed pitchers Anthony Carter and Dennis O'Grady, along with catcher Rocky Gale and outfielder Rico Noel to Minor League camp.

Fuentes hit .095 in 21 at-bats with one stolen base. Carter allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings in five games. O'Grady allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings in five games.

Gale, regarded as a very strong defensive catcher, had four hits in five at-bats in six games. Noel had an inside-the-park home run earlier this month against the Brewers. Overall, the switch-hitter batted .136 over 22 at-bats in 13 games.

Short hops

• Outfielder Alex Dickerson injured his left ankle during morning stretches on Saturday. There was no determination of the severity of the injury. After a slow start this spring, Dickerson is hitting .280 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 25 at-bats.

Closer Huston Street, who has been sidelined with a slight right groin injury, threw one inning on Saturday in a Minor League game for the Padres' Double-A affiliate. Street got two ground-ball outs and also had one strikeout.

"We've been super cautious with this, but it was nice to get out there for the first time and have it matter ... pitching without a screen in front of me," he said. "I felt good. It's all part of the process."