MLB

Street glad to be returning to sea level

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP)

(Eds: Adds details, quotes. With AP Photos.)

Most pitchers would gladly trade hitter happy Coors Field for pitcher friendly Petco Park.

San Diego Padres closer Huston Street is excited about the switch for a different reason.

Street, 28, was traded to the Padres from the Colorado Rockies on Dec. 7 for a minor-league pitcher. He believes returning to sea level will do wonders for his body's ability to heal.

Even though he converted 29 of 33 save attempts while with the Rockies in 2011, Street was removed from the closer's role and replaced by Rafael Betancourt after he went on the disabled list on Aug. 12. It was the fifth time in Street's seven-year career he has gone on the DL. Street went 1-4 with a career-worst 3.86 ERA in 62 games last season.

''All those guys who play there, I've been through it and I respect them more,'' Street said. ''Their bodies are definitely more taxed over the course of the season playing at 5,000 feet. You can't adjust. You go on the road, you feel good. You come home and you're sore for no reason. There were (times) I had three or four days off pitching and you come home to Colorado and you feel sore.

''I'm really looking forward to playing at sea level.''

Street said he disagreed with the decision by Rockies management but respects manager Jim Tracy and general manager Dan O'Dowd for their honesty and how they handled the situation. He also appreciates that O'Dowd was upfront that Colorado wanted to pursue a trade of Street in the offseason.

Even though he's disappointed by the way last season ended, Street said he doesn't have any extra motivation to succeed in 2012. He also doesn't feel he needs to live up to the lofty accomplishments of former Padres closers Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell, who signed with the Miami Marlins this offseason.

''I'm not really trying to prove anything to anyone ever,'' Street said. ''I really don't care what they think. Not one bit. You go out and get the save. I think everybody should be happy. That's the bottom line. That's why Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell were so well-received. You keep your job by getting the job done and that's the only way I really look at it.''

With Bell gone, Padres manager Bud Black is pleased to have an experienced closer like Street taking over the ninth inning. Black said he's not surprised by how Street, who has 178 saves over his career, has moved on from last season's disappointment.

''All closers have that ability to turn the page,'' Black said. ''You wouldn't have some of the credentials he has without having those qualities good closers have.''

Street is adamant he isn't running from Coors Field in defeat. The right-hander's save conversion rate in three season with the Rockies was 88.4 percent, 6 percent higher than his career rate.

''You just make pitches wherever you're at,'' Street said. ''In Colorado, if I made pitches, I got outs. I pitched very well at that stadium. The sea level is mainly going to help for my recovery. As far as pitching, it is going to help. But the bad pitches get hit no matter where you're at. If they went in the gap at Colorado, they're going to go in the gap at Petco.''

Tagged: Padres, Rockies, Marlins, Heath Bell, Huston Street

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