PEORIA, Ariz. -- Like every Major League team, the Padres are embarking on their third week of camp, and just to break up the monotony, manager Bud Black had the team in a corner of the main practice field at the Peoria Sports Complex on Monday morning going through some soccer drills before regular baseball work began.
Soccer? Black had good reason for the choice of sports.
"[Left-hander] Tommy Layne just happened to mention that he thought about himself as being a soccer player before a baseball player," Black said. "Growing up he was a pretty good soccer player. [Right-hander] Brandon Kloess, when he was 16, played on a national team as the goalkeeper for our country. He's legit."
So Black's thought process continued: "Let's see what you got. Back it up. I call bull. Let me see it. So that's what we did."
Two big batting screens were set up side by side to replicate the size of a soccer goal and non-roster invitee Kloess wore the yellow shirt as the goaltender. To the hoots and hollers of his assembled teammates, Kloess showed Black what he had, stopping more than a few of the simulated penalty kicks blasted toward him.
"It's just good team building," Black said. "It's a long spring. The monotony of what we do, there's something to that. The consistency and structure is good. Players want that. They want to know what's expected each day. But things like this that we do, it's a good diversion."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow@boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.