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FungoMan Is The Hero San Diego Deserves

This guy has been replaced.
This guy has been replaced.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The most popular new face at the Padres' spring training camp this year isn't an A.J. Preller acquisition. In fact, it doesn't really have a face. It's FungoMan, a machine that looks a lot like a pitching machine, but does the exact opposite. As you might have gathered from the name, it shoots fly balls and popups to players doing fielding drills. According to Padres beat writer Corey Brock, coaches are thrilled to let the machine take over for them.

"It takes out the human error when you're doing specific outfield drills," said San Diego bench coach Dave Roberts, who works with the team's outfielders. "You can maximize the players' time. Trying to hit the ball 330 feet consistently is tough for anyone.

Dave Roberts isn't the only one in camp trying to get on the machines' good side before Skynet takes over. Outfielder Matt Kemp used it with his previous team (their name escapes me), and loved it so much he helped dig the Padres' FungoMan out of storage.

"I don't think people really understand how hard it is to hit consistent fly balls with a real fungo," Kemp said. "I have [had] some good coaches, like Davey Lopes, who were good at it. But I'm sure if Davey saw the 'FungoMan,' he would want to use it instead of hitting fungos all day, so when I found out the Padres had one, I was like, 'I want to use that thing.'"

You heard it here first, folks: The Padres love robots. Not that we can judge, though.