After finally making their acquisition of Matt Kemp official, the Padres introduced their new star to fans and the media in a press conference at Petco Park this afternoon. Crazed general manager A.J. Preller opened the presser with the basic routine, thanking his staff and ownership, before going on to say that Kemp had been on their radar for some time. "This is where we wanted to start, and I feel really good about being here today and introducing him as a member of the San Diego Padres." Bud Black also had a few words to say, but his microphone cut out about halfway through and he mostly repeated what Preller said.
The rest of the conference belonged to Kemp, and he was on fire. He opened with a promise: "What you're gonna get from me, is I'm gonna give you 100% and I'm gonna be a leader on the team." He praised the pitching staff, saying how much he hated coming to Petco to face Padre arms. Black then helped him into his first Padres jersey, and then they opened the floor for questions.
Hacksaw was the first to the mic, and asked Kemp about his emotions regarding leaving the team he'd spent so long with. He said that with all the rumors he's dealt with for the last year, he'd already come to terms with it. "I look at this as a positive thing for me and my life. Change is good, and I'm excited to be here and play in San Diego where I live."
Asked about Preller's wheeling and dealing, he had nothing but praise for the general manager. "This is unbelievable, I was referring to him right now as a rock star. He's a GM rock star!" A.J. chimed in, saying, "This is the first time I've gotten the rock star tag!"
What does Kemp think about hitting in Petco? "Hitting here, I've never had a problem. I like hitting here, it's a beautiful ballpark." He got a little saucy when the subject of his hips came up. "These hips are unbelievable man! These hips are great! You all keep talking about my hips, you wanna see my hips?" Well, now we do. There were the usual softballs about the difference between the cities and the first game back at Dodger Stadium. During a brief pause, he commented on the laid back nature of San Diego sports reporters. "You guys are easy!"
Hacksaw went back to the old "nobody hits at Petco" thing, asking how Kemp could be so good here. He didn't have an explanation for his success here, but he did mention his biggest issue when playing here. "I think the only time I never really got any hits was off that guy back there, Trevor Hoffman. He was the only person I couldn't hit... that dang changeup!" For the record, Kemp went 1-6 against Trevor with a pair of strikeouts.
Now, where will Kemp be playing? Bud Black handled that one. Kemp will be in right field, Wil Myers will handle center, Justin Upton will cover left field. He and A.J. were cagier when asked about first base, saying that it's still Yonder Alonso's job, with Tommy Medica filling in as needed.
And that was that. Last week, Joe wondered if he could root for Kemp, and after this conference, I'm happy to join him in saying yes, I can definitely root for this guy.
If you missed the presser or just want to rewatch it so you can get weak in the knees all over again, here's the whole video.