PEORIA, Ariz. -- Some pitchers can simply concentrate on mechanics early in spring training. Wade LeBlanc figures he doesn't have that luxury.
LeBlanc is competing with veteran Dustin Moseley and rookie Cory Luebke for the fifth spot in the San Diego Padres' rotation. Even with 38 major league starts on his resume, LeBlanc believes he's auditioning with every pitch.His first test on Monday wasn't as clean as he would have preferred. He allowed two runs in two innings as the Padres tied the Seattle Mariners 6-6."You take a guy like me that is competing for a spot, I don't want to say it's the regular season, but it's close," LeBlanc said. "There's still a spot riding on the pitches that you make. In my position, and in my opinion, I have to be more mentally ready to get some outs rather than just work on mechanics and things like that."LeBlanc was 8-12 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 games for the Padres in 2010 before he lost his job late in the season. After starting the year with a 3.30 ERA in 16 starts, LeBlanc was 4-5 with a 5.91 ERA in his last 10 appearances, including nine starts.The left-hander got in trouble almost immediately Monday when Josh Wilson led off the first inning with a single and Jack Cust singled with two outs. Gabe Gross followed with a two-run double to right-center.LeBlanc rebounded nicely with a perfect second inning that included two strikeouts. He finished a 40-pitch effort with four strikeouts and three hits allowed."The second inning is a lot to build on," he said. "I'll take that into my next side and see where I can get."Similar to LeBlanc, Mariners starter Doug Fister improved in his second inning after making several adjustments. Fister, who was 6-14 with a 4.11 ERA in 28 starts last season, allowed four consecutive batters to reach base in the first inning but pitched a perfect second."There was some rust to be kicked off, but it was good," Fister said. "It's just a matter of constantly being focused on body positions and finishing and focusing on the location of pitches."Fister left pitches up to Ryan Ludwick and Orlando Hudson in the first inning and paid for the mistakes. Ludwick singled in a run and Hudson doubled high off the center-field fence. Will Venable had an RBI single bats for the Padres and Jason Bartlett was 2 for 3 with a run scored.Greg Halman had a two-run homer for Seattle and Johermyn Chavez connected in the ninth off Padres reliever Ernesto Frieri.