Suppan throws 1st bullpen session with Padres

Jeff Suppan unofficially began his 20th professional baseball

season after he threw his first bullpen session on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Suppan, a second-round pick in the 1993

draft by the Boston Red Sox, accepted an invitation to big league

camp with the San Diego Padres when they signed him to a

minor-league contract. He will compete with Dustin Moseley, Micah

Owings and Anthony Bass for the fifth spot in the Padres’ starting

rotation.

Suppan, 37, was 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for

the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A Omaha affiliate last season. But

2011 also marked the first season he hadn’t appeared on a major

league roster since 1994. Even though he has a World Series ring

and a post-baseball career as a restaurateur planned, Suppan said

he’s having too much fun to retire.

Suppan is 138-143 in his career with a 4.69 ERA. He has pitched

for six teams and won a World Series title with the St. Louis

Cardinals in 2006.

”I’m not going to overanalyze it, I’m a baseball player and I

like to play,” Suppan said. ”That’s why I’m here. All these

things, retirement, continuing to play, they’re all a reality. It

could go either way. There’s an opportunity here. I’m here and

we’ll see what happens.”

Pitching coach Darren Balsley said Suppan isn’t just in camp to

give the Padres depth. Nor is he with the team to mentor a talented

crop of minor-league pitchers.

”He’s a great veteran presence, and by the way he can still

pitch,” Balsley said.

Suppan can opt out of the contract on June 15 if he isn’t in the

majors. But for now, Suppan said he’s enjoying bullpen sessions and

being around his teammates.

”They said there was an opportunity,” Suppan said. ”How

great, they really couldn’t say. But they did say there was an

opportunity to come to camp and show what I can do. We’ll see what

happens and I’m OK with that.”