LAA@SD: Stults fans Cowgill swinging in the first

PEORIA, Ariz. -- This was a little more like it, said Padres pitcher Eric Stults, who had his best start of the spring on Friday against the Angels.

Stults, who entered the game with an 11.37 ERA in three appearances, yielded one run on three hits and had four strikeouts in five innings of the Padres' 4-2 victory at the Peoria Sports Complex.

"This start was definitely an improvement," said Stults, who is projected to be the No. 5 starter in the rotation. "The first two starts, my tempo and rhythm just didn't feel right. Today I felt much better."

That is not entirely surprising for Stults, a left-hander who relies more on command and keeping hitters off-balanced than simply throwing the ball by them.

"For a guy like me, a finesse and feel guy, the more I get out there the better it seems I feel," he said.

Stults allowed one run in the first inning when J.B. Shuck tripled to right-center field and scored on a sacrifice fly by Grant Green. But he allowed two hits the rest of the way.

Short hops

• The Padres have yet to name their Opening Day starter, though manager Bud Black opted to have Andrew Cashner -- regarded as the leading candidate to start March 30 against the Dodgers -- bypass his scheduled start against the Dodgers on Saturday and instead have him start a Minor League game. Joe Wieland will start the game at Camelback Ranch.

• Third baseman Chase Headley, who sustained a strained right calf on Feb. 22, is close to playing in his first Cactus League game of the spring. Black said Friday that Headley could potentially appear in a game next week, most likely toward the middle. Headley has been taking part in full-field drills during practice, and he recently started running on the calf.

• Closer Huston Street, like Cashner, will appear in a Minor League game on Saturday. This will be his first appearance in a game of any kind after being slowed early in camp by a slight right groin injury.