San Diego Padres officials had seen Tucson Electric Park before, but on Wednesday morning, they were able to examine the home-team facilities at the ballpark.
And they were surprised by the size of the locker room and offices.
"We're excited about being here," said Padres director of player development and international scouting Randy Smith, who toured TEP before he and Triple-A manager Terry Kennedy were introduced to the media.
The Padres' Triple-A team will play at least the 2011 season in Tucson after relocating from Portland, Ore.
"From a development standpoint, being able to get your work done, this is fantastic," Smith said.
"The space is tremendous. It's a major-league clubhouse, really."
The team has yet to be named - general manager Mike Feder said Tucson Padres is a possibility. A lease to use TEP is about 90 percent completed, Feder said. The agreement is for one year with an option for another.
The team is being sold to an ownership group headed by Padres owner Jeff Moorad, who intends to move the team to Escondido, Calif. The city council will vote Nov. 30 on construction of a $45 million to $50 million ballpark.
Smith, a Scottsdale resident, discussed TEP, the advantages to playing in Tucson and what the team might look like.
A roster won't be decided for months, but what might the team look like?
A: "It's going to be a little younger than perhaps your typical Triple-A team. Our prospects are starting to move up the system, so we're going to have guys on their way to the big leagues. We might have a couple guys who got up last year that maybe still need a little time down here, but it's probably going to be more a mix of prospects than it is veteran minor-leaguers that are looking for another opportunity in the big leagues. I think we're going to have some pretty good arms. We'll have some speed. Obviously, here, we're going to need to hit the ball out of the ballpark, lot of runs scored in this park."
How does Tucson's proximity to San Diego help your planning?
A: "It's pretty easy to get from here to San Diego. It's easy to get a guy from (Double-A) San Antonio to here if we have an injury, or if we're in a real jam, we can run somebody up I-10 if we're that short and we have an injury that we need a body here."
Which players might see time here?
"Simon Castro is one of our top prospects, a right-handed pitcher. Jeremy Hefner had a good year in Double-A. Matt Clark drove in almost 100 runs in Double-A in a tough ballpark. There are some younger ones. I wouldn't want to bring up their names yet because they have to accomplish some things in Double-A, but there are some guys who wouldn't surprise me."
The team will play four games in July at Single-A affiliate Fort Wayne, Ind. What are the advantages of that?
"It's a break for these guys to get out of the heat a little bit and a chance to reward our franchise in Fort Wayne with players who have come through there."
How long might the team be here?
"Jeff Moorad and his group are in discussions with officials in North County. We're focused on 2011 and happy to be here, and we'll see what happens. Tucson has a rich tradition of baseball history. We're happy to be here and be part of it. There will be a number of fans who go to San Diego to escape the heat in the summer, and maybe they'll see some of these guys who've been promoted."