PEORIA, Ariz. — Michael Wacha was one of the last pitchers on the free-agent market this offseason, but the contract was well worth the wait for the veteran pitcher.
Wacha signed last month with the San Diego Padres for a guaranteed $26 million over four years. Depending on bonuses and player or team options, the deal could be worth $39 million over three years.
Despite the delay, Wacha looks ready as ever, pitching three innings on Thursday against the Cleveland Guardians, giving up two unearned runs.
“This is my 10th spring training, I’ve kind of gotten it figured out,” Wacha said after his outing. “Obviously over the years there have been some tweaks here and there, but even (before signing) I was continuing to do that.”
Wacha gave up three hits and struck out two, and the runs were unearned because of his own error covering first base while receiving a throw from first baseman Matt Carpenter, who was also his teammate with St. Louis.
“If I would have caught it clean the first time, I would have had it,” Wacha said. “I thought I made a decent recovery. But it’s all good.”
Wacha, 31, was 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts for Boston last year. Besides the Cardinals, he has pitched for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay.
With the Padres, he joins a crowded rotation that includes lefty Blake Snell and fellow right-handers Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo.
“I feel like I’m in a great spot, right on schedule for whenever that first start is.”
Josh Hader followed Wacha to the mound. The hard-throwing lefty closer begins his first full season in San Diego after being acquired from Milwaukee last season.
Throwing several sliders in his second spring outing, Hader gave up two hits and a walk but no runs. He threw one wild pitch and struck out one.
“That was one of my goals, trying to get a lot of reps with that slider,” Hader said.
Hader said he threw more fastballs in his first outing, so he emphasized his slider this time.
“Try to get them for strikes and see the reactions of the hitters, and seeing if I want to work on it more,” he said. “Overall there was more good than bad.”
Hader, who throws fastballs in the upper 90s mph, is building up to that velocity, throwing in the mid-90s on Thursday.
“Eventually once you get closer to the season, you get 40,000 fans in front of you so that’s a little bit more adrenaline,” he said.
Padres right-hander Michael Wacha throws 3 innings in debut