PEORIA, Ariz. -- There was nothing subtle about the way the Padres pursued Minor League free-agent pitcher Anthony Carter this offseason.
"Right from the get-go, I felt like they really wanted me here," Carter said.
So much so that the Padres signed the right-hander fairly early in the offseason on Nov. 18, reaching a deal that included an invitation to big league camp. There's more than a few people in the front office who feel Carter can push for a spot in the team's bullpen.
Carter, who turns 28 on April 4, impressed Padres' scouts last season pitching for the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, R.I. He had a 3.47 ERA but had fewer hits (56) than innings (62 1/3) and also had 79 strikeouts.
"He was very-much high on our radar from the beginning of free agency," said Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch, who is charged with signing Minor League free agents. "We liked his fastball, how he used it, and his ability to miss bats with it above the barrel. He has enough weapons to get hitters out and really pitches off a high-velocity fastball. Given his stuff and maturity, we felt he was one of the best arms out there in Minor League free agency, even though he hasn't been tested in the big leagues yet. We are excited to see him in camp."
Carter was a starting pitcher for the first four years of his career in the White Sox system but discovered his velocity jumped a tick when he went into the bullpen, which can be common among converted starters.
"I like it," Carter said of his conversion to a reliever. "It was an opportunity to get out there two or three times in a series. And my velocity picked up pretty good. Before, I was 88-92 [mph] sitting right in there, to where I am now, throwing some mid-90s."
Sipp waits out winter to find right fit with Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The month was nearly a week old when pitcher Tony Sipp, despite not having a team to play for in 2014, decided to alleviate the uncertainty of his situation with a banal distraction.
Liking packing a suitcase filled with his belongings.
"It was my baseball gear, a few collared shirts and a suit, because hopefully you'll need a suit at some point," Sipp said Saturday. "I was trying to avoid the last-minute fire drill of packing and all that.
"I was taking steps to create some sort of order in my life and making sense of the nonsense that was going on."
The nonsense didn't last much longer, as Sipp signed a Minor League deal with the Padres on Feb. 7, a deal that included an invite to big league camp, where he'll compete for the job of left-handed specialist.
"It actually wasn't that stressful. But you do get that itch because you want that comfort of where you'll be heading. I actually packed a bag not really knowing where I was going because it was between a few different teams," Sipp said.
Sipp and his agent found a viable option in the Padres, who will carry a left-hander -- Alex Torres -- in the bullpen, though he won't be used as a specialist. The team, in all likelihood, will carry a second lefty for the sole intent of getting left-handed batters out late in the game.
Sipp, 30, comes to the Padres with a career 3.84 ERA in 304 appearances with the Indians (2009-12) and the D-backs last season. He's held lefties to a .224 average in his career and righties to a .209 mark.
Patrick Schuster, who comes to the team under Rule 5 parameters, is in the running for that spot, too. The team also could look at Robbie Erlin in that role, though he's better suited to start.
"If we have two left-handers who we think are functional and can complement five right-handers, then that's something we're going to look at," said Padres manager Bud Black.
For Sipp, the offseason played out like it did for many baseball beat writers -- checking transactions and trying to gauge who is going where.
"You try to see what's the best fit for you, which organization needs whatever your specialty is, like for me, I'm a left-handed specialist. From there, you look around to see who signs where, you look at the transactions and you talk to your agent," Sipp said.
"I thought this was the best fit for me."
Grandal hustling to make Opening Day roster
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's been nothing idle about the way catcher Yasmani Grandal has pushed himself to get ready for Opening Day -- even if the team is being cautious about his surgically repaired right knee.
Grandal, who had surgery in August to repair his anterior cruciate ligament after a nasty collision in a July game against the Nationals, recently dismissed the prescribed nine- to 12-month recovery period that he was quoted shortly after surgery.
All along, Grandal has had his sights set on making the Padres' 25-man Opening Day roster and doesn't want to consider anything else.
"His sense of motivation and commitment is as strong as I've seen in a long time," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's got a big 'want to.'"
Grandal has worked with Padres physical therapist Rick Stauffer, and also in Florida and Arizona, during a busy offseason in which he also got married. While in San Diego, he sought out video footage of the new pitchers the team has acquired this winter in order to acclimate himself before getting to Peoria.
"Watching him doing some agility drills on the field, we're really encouraged about how he's moving and what he's doing on the field," Black said. "If you talk to the doctors, you talk to the therapists, you talk to the strength guys, and they are really -- I don't want to say amazed -- but they are extremely happy with his progression."
Despite Grandal's quick recovery, the team will monitor the work load he puts on his knee. For example, he caught pitchers throwing off a mound on Friday but didn't do so Saturday.