DENVER -- Right-handed reliever Brad Brach would have just as soon gone to the pitchers' meeting before Monday's series opener with the Rockies, but as he told his teammates who tried to hurry him along, he'd just been sent down to Triple-A Tucson.
With Mark Kotsay activated from the disabled list before the game, Brach, 25, was optioned back to Triple-A to refine his game. In five appearances since making the Opening Day roster when Tim Stauffer went on the DL with a strained right elbow, Brach went 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA in 5 1/3 innings, walking seven while striking out three.
"Brad has some things he has to clean up, but he's close to being a Major League pitcher for a long time," manager Bud Black said. "He's got a good arm, good live fastball, good slider. We've got to get the ball in the strike zone just a little more consistently, but he's going to help the Padres win for a long time."
Brach had a nine-game callup at the end of the 2011 season, producing similar results, but his second experience with the big league club was even more beneficial to the developing young pitcher.
"It's been a good experience, being up here from the beginning -- I'd never done that before," Brach said. "It was awesome Opening Day. This is just a learning curve I have to go through. I'm hoping to head down to Tucson, pitch well, and be back up here as soon as possible.
Being one of 25 to start the season rather than one of 40 to finish it was a huge confidence boost for Brach, and he goes back to Tucson with a sense of belonging and a realistic yardstick to measure himself by as he plots his return.
"Knowing that I can be here instead of thinking that I can be is probably the biggest thing," Brach said. "Get back to what made me successful in getting here. I've been trying too hard instead of just letting my ability get me to where I need to be."
Padres welcome Kotsay's bat, leadership
DENVER -- For a Padres lineup that has averaged 3.4 runs per game this season, Coors Field's expansive outfield serves as a siren song, beckoning their bats.
And what better time for Mark Kotsay to return to the Padres after opening the season on the disabled list with a strained right calf. Kotsay is a career .305 (54-for-177) hitter at Coors Field, and after hitting at a .345 (10-for-29) clip in his abbreviated Spring Training, he's ready to make it count.
"It's the start of another year for me, and I'm excited about it," Kotsay said before Monday's series opener. "I would have liked for it to happen on Opening Day, but unfortunately with the strain, I was limited. I'm excited to be back."
Kotsay started on the bench Monday, but he's a lock for the lineup Tuesday, when Jamie Moyer takes the mound for the Rockies. Kotsay has a career .576 average (19-for-33) against Moyer, and his patient approach at the plate is key to hitting the 49-year-old veteran with a fastball in the upper 70s.
"He's a guy who provides that experienced bat on the bench," manager Bud Black said. "Very heady player. Can still hit. He'll get his starts. He'll get his appearances coming off the bench, but he's a good player to have on the team. He'll hopefully provide a boost for us."
Kotsay vs. Moyer is a case study for younger Padres hitters, as Moyer has feasted on overly-aggressive hitters who can't wait to hit a pitch that never seems to get to them. Kotsay's 15 years of experience, including three years with the Padres from 2001-2003, can't help but be an asset in San Diego.
"It's a huge boost," 25-year-old first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "He's a veteran guy who obviously knows the pitching staff on most teams. He's a guy that not only is pretty much a coach on the field, but he's a guy you can definitely lean on for advice. He's a guy that's going to keep you upbeat, he's going to keep you positive. It's fun to have him back."
Prospect Kelly having right elbow examined
DENVER -- The Padres' top prospect Casey Kelly has left Triple-A Tucson headed for San Diego to have his elbow examined.
The 22-year-old right-handed starter reported soreness in his pitching elbow after his last start, and Padres vice president of player development and international scouting Randy Smith confirmed that team doctors are examining Kelly in San Diego.
Kelly was Boston's first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and came to San Diego in December of 2010 as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade. He's 21-16 in 67 Minor League starts and has a 2.25 ERA in two starts for Tucson this year. He's ranked second among Padres prospects by MLB.com, with starting first baseman Yonder Alonso topping the list.
Kelly has no walks in 12 innings over two starts, allowing a total of 12 hits and 14 strikeouts. In his second Triple-A start on Wednesday, Kelly pitched six shutout innings of five-hit ball, striking out nine and walking none. He reported the elbow soreness after the start.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.