SAN DIEGO -- The fluidity of the Padres' 2012 roster has been well-documented. Thanks in large part to injury, San Diego has used 28 pitchers, a club-record-tying 15 of them starters, and has a bullpen that currently consists of seven rookies. The flux hasn't been limited to the pitching staff, as all told 52 players have suited up at some point this season, tops in the Majors by four players (Cubs).
And while that's obviously not a category anyone in the Padres' organization hoped the team would lead in, no one has felt the strain more than the San Diego clubhouse staff: Fifty-two players means 52 jerseys that must be adorned with 52 numbers that both keep players happy and appease clubhouse decorum.
The task of choosing who gets which number falls upon Brian Prilaman, the team's equipment manager, who, along with his assistants, Tony Petricca and Spencer Dallin, are responsible for the players' uniforms (among many, many other things).
While the everyday, sure-fire big leaguers are relatively easy to enumerate, others are a little more complicated. According to Dallin, the clubhouse staff polls those players during Spring Training, determining which number they would have if they were to get the call.
Monday night's starter, Casey Kelly, was one of those players, and identified No. 29 as his ideal choice if he were to be called up. But another youngster on the cusp, Brad Boxberger, had already requested it, and therefore "boxed" Kelly out to his current 49.
But the influx of new faces meant that Prilaman and his staff couldn't record predispositions from everybody, so some players, such as relievers Cory Burns (61) and Nick Vincent (50), were just assigned numbers based on what was available.
"For me, it didn't matter. Whatever number I wanted was probably going to be taken," Vincent said. "I thought I was going to be 64 because that's what I was in Spring Training, but I got here and saw 50 and was like, 'Oh, that's different.' Numbers are just numbers to me."
Dallin said the staff tries to accommodate requests as much as possible, but if a new veteran comes in and requests a number held by a rookie, seniority generally wins out. San Diego's had five numbers (1, 38, 39, 40, 41) worn by multiple players this season.
"In a season like this, we start running out of numbers," Dallin said. "That's why you see a guy like Kip Wells wearing No. 60 because it was what was available."
And while some veterans may be concerned for superstition purposes, the fact that most of the new faces have been new Major Leaguers means that they are less concerned with what their number is, and more with the fact that they have one at all.
"I don't care, I've got a big league number," Burns said. "As long as you've got a jersey, you're all right."
Headley admires Chipper's durability most
SAN DIEGO -- There are a lot of similarities between Braves' switch-hitting third baseman Chipper Jones and the Padres' version, Chase Headley. But when asked to reflect on the Hall-of-Fame career in the midst of Chipper's last series at Petco Park, Headley said the part of Jones's game he'd be most proud to emulate is durability.
"He's done it for 20 years, it's unbelievable, it doesn't even make sense," Headley said of Jones, who's played 2,471 games entering Tuesday night. "I think to be successful and to be a really good player in this league you need to be counted on to be in there just about every day. And I think that's something that's maybe not as common as it used to be. ... There's not many of those guys left."
But since settling in as the Padres' starting third baseman in June 2008, Headley has certainly shown Jones-like durability. He played in every one of the Padres' remaining 91 games after being called up on June 17 of that 2008 season, and played in 156 games the following year. Headley played in 161 games in 2010, and his 554 plate appearances coming into Tuesday night are in the top 10 in the Majors.
"I think that's something I take pride in, being ready to play as much as you can every day," Headley said. "I know that I try to prepare myself and work extremely hard not only during the season but in the offseason."
Headley, a shortstop prior to his collegiate career at Tennessee, says that like Jones, a player whom he has great respect for is Cal Ripken, who played in a record 2,632 straight games over 17 seasons.
"He was my favorite growing up," Headley said. "... That streak, as a modern-day player, its almost unfathomable to think about how you can play that many games in a row,"
Manager Bud Black announced after Monday night's game that rookie Casey Kelly, who tossed six scoreless innings in his Major League debut, will get another start in turn Sunday in Colorado.
Lefty specialist Joe Thatcher threw a successful simulated game Monday and will head to Class A Lake Elsinore to throw an inning on a rehab assignment Wednesday. Thatcher says he expects to be activated from the disabled list during or prior to the team's weekend series in Colorado. The 30-year-old has been on the DL retroactive to July 26 with right knee tendinitis.
The Padres expect to make a decision in the next week regarding starter Jason Marquis, who suffered a fractured left wrist after being hit with a line drive Aug. 21. Marquis is currently in a cast, and Black said doctors are being very cautious with the veteran, who wants to pitch again this season.
According to Black, with the return of hurlers Anthony Bass and Andrew Cashner from the disabled list, San Diego does not have to rush the 34-year-old back, particularly as he is at risk to further injure the wrist if he comes back too soon.
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.