• Still no signs — none — that the Padres are willing to trade closer Heath Bell to the Rangers or any other club before Opening Day.
The Padres, coming off a 90-win season, are reluctant to upset their fan base before even playing a game, particularly after trading first baseman Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason.
The Mariners, recognizing that their offense would be challenged, made a strong push for Gonzalez late in spring training a year ago, according to a major-league source.
Good thing the Padres kept Gonzalez; their surprising 2010 season would have turned out much differently otherwise.
• A scout in Arizona expresses concern about Brewers closer John Axford, who has an 8.44 ERA in seven appearances this spring.
“He has a very complicated delivery,” the scout says. “You have to manage him day by day, inning by inning, pitch by pitch.”
Rick Peterson, the Brewers’ former pitching coach, succeeded in doing that with Axford last season. Peterson’s replacement, Rick Kranitz, inherits the challenge.
• The Marlins are unlikely to seek outside help at third base if they demote Matt Dominguez, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
Dominguez, batting .175 entering Wednesday’s play, looks increasingly unlikely to make the club. The Marlins’ current plan is to use Omar Infante at second and choose from among Emilio Bonifacio, Wes Helms and Donnie Murphy at third.
The team does not want to add to its projected Opening Day payroll of approximately $60 million.
• The Padres and A’s are among the teams looking for backup infielders who can play shortstop. The Orioles’ Robert Andino and Mets’ Luis Hernandez, both of whom are out of options, are among the players who likely could be had.
The Padres’ need stems from Kevin Frandsen’s difficulties playing shortstop. Everth Cabrera could serve as Jason Bartlett’s backup, but the Padres want Cabrera to play at Triple A.
• Tigers right-hander Brad Penny, engaged to “Dancing with the Stars” pro Karina Smirnoff, jokes that her demeanor is the opposite of his.
“She’s a real good girl, easy to be around,” Penny says. “She’s great. You’d love her. Great personality. Kind of goes with mine — no personality.”
• Finally, here’s to Will Rhymes, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound battler who says he overcame a “lifetime of being an underdog” to win the Tigers’ second-base job.
Rhymes, a 27th-round pick in 2005, was not even invited to major-league spring training last season; the Tigers were grooming another prospect, Scott Sizemore, for the job.
This time Rhymes beat out Sizemore, in large part because he batted .304 in 191 at-bats last season, manager Jim Leyland said.
Rhymes, who turns 28 on April 1, figures to remain at second until Carlos Guillen recovers from microfracture knee surgery, which could be a while.
— Ken Rosenthal