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Padres Spring Training Round-Up: March 16th, 2021

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BOOM-SHAKALAKA!!!

San Diego Padres v Oakland Athletics
CJ Abrams, coming to an MLB park, maybe sooner than we all thought!
Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Good morning, Padres fans! The Padres offense came alive again yesterday, as the Good Guys took down the Brewers, 13-3. It was a beautiful thing, as Friar batters hit early and often, and the pitching staff looked good once again.

LHP Blake Snell got his 3rd start of the spring, and like Yu Darvish yesterday, Snell went 3 scoreless innings, giving up only 1 hit while K-ing 2. He was followed by a slew of bullpen arms, highlighted by RHP Emilio Pagan, who threw 1 inning, gave up a hit, and K’d 2. RHP Reiss Knehr, who has yet to pitch above A-ball, gave up the most damage. He got roughed up when he came in during the 6th inning, giving up 3 hits for 2 runs (both earned) while K-ing 1.

Fortunately, the pitching was more than good enough, because as mentioned above, the Padres offense went OFF. 1B Eric Hosmer drove in the first run, scoring LF Tommy Pham on a sac fly. UT Jorge Mateo followed 2 batters later, roping a 2-out shot to right center for a 2-run triple.

Mateo then scored on the next batter, as Pedro Florimon grounded out, making it a 4-0 game before Snell even threw a pitch.

The offense then went quiet for a few innings, until OF Brian O’Grady, perhaps sensing his shot at making the Opening Day roster slipping away, decided to make the coaching staff’s decision a little harder. O’Grady hammered a shot out onto the berm in right field for a 3-run homer, making it a 7-0 game.

The Brewers finally got on the board in the 6th, scoring the previously mentoned 2 runs off Knehr. O’Grady, perhaps feeling threatened, decided 1 homer wasn’t enough. He homered again in the 7th, sending a liner out to center.

The real fireworks started a few batters later, when young CJ Abrams came to the plate with the bases loaded. He went oppo for a grand slam, to much applause, and making it a 12-2 laugher at that point.

Jorge Mateo drove in the final run a few batters later, making it 13-2 before the Brewers tacked on 1 last run in their half of the 7th for the 13-3 final.

Now that’s what I call fun! Let’s see what other news and notes there were:

  • Continuing a theme of his all spring, LHP Blake Snell remained critical of his performance, despite the stellar results. His slider? “Not where it needs to be.” Consistency? “I’ve got to clean that up.” Even when he found a positive from his outing, he typically followed it up with a qualifier. “I’m in good shape, arm feels healthy, body feels good,” Snell said. “I need to get stronger with my body to go as deep as I really want to go, but with how the ball is coming out, I’m really happy with it.” Considering that the Brewers ran out a lineup full of regulars against him, we should feel pretty good about our chances of competing with the Dodgers in the NL West if Snell ever feels good about his outings.
  • There was some belief that, after signing a 14-year/$340 million contract this offseason, Fernando Tatis Jr. might slow down or temper his play a bit. So far, this spring has only revealed one thing: FTJ plays the game at one speed only, and the team will likely not ask him to tone it down much if any. “This is what makes him an extremely special player: Before you start to have that conversation, you’ve got to realize what you would be possibly taking away,” Tingler said. “The last thing we want is any type of injury or anything like that, certainly this time of the year. Also the last thing we want is to take any type of play where he’s playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played — 100% running hard — all those things away. I’m very aware of the risk factors and we’ll certainly have some talks on that, but I’m probably more aware as well of taking a part of somebody’s game away.”
  • Yesterday’s game highlighted the on-going battle for what’s likely the team’s last roster spot. While Jorge Mateo is emerging as the favorite, OF Brian O’Grady is not conceding anything just yet. Mateo, acquired last year from the A’s, appeared in 22 games, hitting only .154 with a .185 OBP. So far this spring, Mateo is 11-for-28 (.393) with 6 walks this spring after going 2-for-4 with a walk, a triple and three RBIs on Monday. In comparison, O’Grady is 6-23 with 5 walks, after going 2-3 with 2 walks, 2 HRs, and 4 RBIs. Mateo also likely has the edge, as he’s out of minor league options, while O’Grady retains some.
  • CJ Abrams is not the only Padres prospect having a great spring. Abrams might’ve become the youngest member of Slam Diego yesterday, but Tucupita Marcano snapped a string of 4 straight hitless games by going 2-2 against the Brewers, his 3rd multi-hit game of the spring. Marcano, signed out of Venezuela in 2016 as an infielder, has increasingly played in the OF this spring while batting .429 and a 1.214 OPS through 13 games so far.
  • In injury news, RF Wil Myers, who was scratched Saturday because of a sore right knee, will return to the lineup Tuesday. As for CF Trent Grisham, (hamstring), he was “feeling very good” on Monday, Tingler said, though his timetable to return remains unclear. C Austin Nola remains out, as the team waits for swelling to go down before updating his status, likely in the next 4-5 days. He still remains active in the backfields, doing throwing and light blocking drills, as, according to Tingler, Nola’s involvement remains largely a decision based on Nola’s pain tolerance level. RHP Austin Adams is dealing with inflammation in his elbow, as well as a personal matter that is not COVID-19 related. Tingler said Adams’ status is day-to-day (Adams has not pitched in a game since March 7). INF Ha-seong Kim also missed a 2nd straight game after he was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with “aches and pains.”
  • RHP Emilio Pagan looks to be the front-runner for the Padres’ closer role, which may come as a surprise based on how Pagan looked at times last year. As the SD-UT’s Kevin Acee notes, there were times last year that Pagan could hardly be trusted at any point in a game, giving up runs in 5 of his first 11 appearances, and blowing leads in 4 of them. Pagan, though, points to an underlying reason: the pain he began experiencing in his arm during the team’s brief intra-squad period. “I could tell something wasn’t right,” Pagán recalled. “It wasn’t necessarily that I felt injured. That’s why I continued to try to pitch through it. I just figured it was like normal spring training. In February, everybody goes through a couple outings of a dead-arm period while they’re building up strength. Nobody had done the summer camp thing before. I thought it was like normal spring training and it would go away.” By the time he knew it was something significant, the season had started and the Padres were playing every day in a scheduled crammed to get the most games out of the fewest days. And relievers were falling all around the Padres bullpen. Pagan continued to pitch through pain until going on the IL on 30 August; upon his return, Pagan was finally pitching pain free, with more life on his fastball. He was also far more effective, allowing only 2 runs (both in a single outing) over 7 outings, K-ing 10 while holding opposing batters to .125 batting average.

That’s it for today. RHP Joe Musgrove will make his third Cactus League start at 1310 Pacific Tuesday against the White Sox at Peoria Stadium. LHP MacKenzie Gore is among the pitchers scheduled to follow. Here’s the lineup:

GO PADRES!!!