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March 28, 2017

While San Diego's lineup features All-Star Wil Myers at first base and touted prospects Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe in the outfield, one needn't look further than the rotation—which includes reclamation projects Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard and Jered Waver—to know that this rebuilding team is in for a lean season. That at least gives the Padres room to experiment, and no project is more unique than their attempt to turn backup catcher/outfielder Christian Bethancourt, a .223/.253/.368 career hitter better known for his cannon-like throws, into a part-time relief pitcher. After turning heads with 95-mph heat in a pair of mop-up appearances last year, San Diego had the 25-year-old righty log innings in the Panama Winter League. Until a few days ago, his number of innings pitched this spring (7 1/3) exceeded his number of plate appearances (he’s now up to 12). Manager Andy Green sees Bethancourt as a reliever who can serve as a third catcher and pinch-hitter when he's not available to pitch. 

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