Good morning, Padres fans, and welcome to the home stretch before Opening Day! Somewhat improbably, it actually looks like we’ll get some real, live baseball this week, and not just scrimmages. With that, let’s go over the news and notes from Camp over the weekend before previewing tonight’s action against the Angels.
- While Fernando Tatis, Jr. tantalized us at times with his talent in 2019, it’s safe to say the young Shortstop is still a work in progress. Case in point: despite making highlight reel plays with both his legs and bat, FTJ ranked 28th last season among shortstops who played at least 500 innings by making just 95.6% of plays that were considered almost certain. “Kind of immature,” Tatis said during spring training. “I’m always honest with myself. Sometimes I was immature in the infield.” “(Consistency) is one of the biggest things we’ve been working on since I met him,” Dickerson said. “I see signs of it. I see greatness in practice. Then in a game I see him going back to what he’s done before a little bit sometimes. But he has shown me some solid improvements.”
- Speaking of FTJ, he launched what was described as a monster solo shot to right-center in Saturday’s intrasquad matchup. Tatis’ HR led off the 6th inning, and came against RHP Chris Paddack.
- As for Paddack, he looked good again in intrasquad action on Saturday afternoon. The Padres’ presumptive opening day starter struck out eight and threw 87 pitches to get through six innings while facing a semblance of the team’s opening-day lineup. What stood out most was Paddack’s use of his curve ball, a pitch that was essentially an offering for show in 2019 and hadn’t been particularly sharp up to this point. He threw it in virtually every count and often threw it two times in a row. At least twice, he threw three straight curves.
- Following a 2nd opinion evaluation, RHP Trey Wingenter underwent Tommy John surgery on Friday and will be lost for the season. Wingenter was expected to make a run at the opening-day bullpen but was more likely going to be counted on for depth. The 6’7” Wingenter struggled with mechanical issues and a shoulder strain last season, posting a 5.65 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 51 innings. He had a 3.79 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 19 innings in 2018 after making his major league debut that August.
- With Wingenter getting added to the list of injured Padres relievers, the Team is preparing to utilize their pitching staff in unique ways. Among the ideas getting floated about is using starters as relievers. To that end, LHP Joey Lucchesi worked during the break between the end of spring training and start of summer camp in case he ends up making the first relief appearances of his career, specifically on shortening his warm-up time (Lucchesi and RHP Cal Quantrill are ostensibly in a battle for the 5th rotation spot/swing-starter/bullpen role). Tingler has acknowledged he will likely have a quicker hook this season than in a 162-game campaign. “I think you could potentially see a lot of pitching styles that are very similar to playoff games,” he said.
- Depending on the health of the other pitchers, LHP MacKenzie Gore could eventually make his major league debut out of the bullpen. But the team’s top pitching prospect remains on a course that indicates the Padres intend for him to remain a starter-in-waiting. Said Tingler: “Nothing has changed as of now.”
- In roster moves, the Padres received cash considerations for pitcher Trevor Megill. The RHP was selected by the Cubs in December’s Rule 5 draft, but was subsequently placed on waivers by the Cubs. When he cleared those, the Padres had the right to take him back or work a trade. Taking him back would have meant refunding the Cubs half of the $100,000 Chicago paid to draft Megill. The team also added RHP reliever Jimmy Yacabonis, OF Abraham Almonte, and LHP Daniel Camarena to their 60-man player pool. Almonte performed well for the team out of Spring Training, making a run at the John Roskos Spring Training MVP award before everything got put on hold. Yacabonis also impressed during Spring Training, allowing two hits and an earned run while striking out six in 5.1 innings. As for Camarena (a San Diego native), he’s set to serve as a starter at the team’s alternate training site.
In other news:
- Damion Easley begins his 1st season as the Padres hitting coach this year (a historically snakebit position in the Padres’ org; Easley will become Wil Myers’ 5th hitting coach since joining the team, and the 11th hitting coach the Padres have had since Petco Park opened in 2004). He’s not an unknown either in the league or to the team; Easley served as the team’s assistant hitting coach in 2019, moving up from being the team’s rehab hitting instructor at the Peoria Sports Complex. The players have appreciated Easley’s forthright yet easy-going style, as well as his ability to communicate to them. Easley plans to emphasize the mental aspect of hitting, focusing on consistent mechanics, and getting on-base.
- AJ Cassavell opens his mailbag to answer fan questions. Among those he fielded was what Manager Jayce Tingler’s first lineup card will look like, who will be the team’s primary DH, and about how long each starter will get per game. Cassavell also takes a look at presumptive 4th OF Edward Olivares. The 24-year old seemingly snatched the job out from more-heralded but oft-injured Franchy Cordero, posting great numbers in both Spring Training and in Summer Camp. But to team officials or those paying attention, Olivares’ ascent was less surprising, and ultimately made Cordero expendable. He was excellent for AA-Amarillo last season, arguably the MVP on a team that won the Texas League title. During Spring Training, he batted .389/.421/.722 across 11 games, then he arrived for Summer Camp and raked from the start. Of course, it’s important to temper the optimism surrounding Olivares, as he’s yet to play a big league game. But if he continues to play well, it will mark a major coup for Preller, who landed Olivares in a January 2018 trade with Toronto.
- The Padres will play the 1st of two exhibition games against the Angels today. RHP Garrett Richards, the team’s presumptive #3 starter, will face-off against RHP Griffin Canning, with first pitch scheduled for 1810 PDT at Petco Park. The game will be broadcast both by radio on local KWFN 97.3, and on TV by Fox Sports - San Diego. The game will also be broadcasted via MLB Network for us out of market folks.
Opening Day is just four days away. Get hyped, and go Padres!