Hello again, Padres fans! We’re just 10 days away from Opening Day, and with 8 games remaining on the spring schedule, the team will look to put the final touches on the roster. The team still needs some work, but it’s a long season.
Let’s get caught up on the weekend’s happenings. The team emerged from the weekend 1-0-1, featuring a rare tie against the Dodgers on Saturday, before emerging with a win on Sunday against the Angels. LHP Blake Snell once again looked like a co-ace of the pitching staff, going 3.1 scoreless IP and giving up only 2 hits while issuing 2 free passes. It also marked the first time this spring Snell threw more balls than strikes. He made up for that, K-ing 3, including getting Mike Trout to whiff on a changeup.
So far this spring, Snell has gone 9.1 IP, given up 4 hits and 3 BBs while K-ing 7 total and allowing a .125 OBA. The Padres then ran out what will likely be several members of it’s opening day bullpen: Mark Melancon, Craig Stammen, Dan Altavilla, and Keone Kela locked down the next 5 innings, allowing a combined 2 hits, 1 BB, while K-ing 3. The Angels didn’t score a run until Albert Pujols hit a meaningless homer in the 9th against big RHP Jordan Guerrero, he of not even 3 total innings in MLB.
At the plate, the Padres featured a lineup full of regulars or expected key bench players: Fernando Tatis Jr., Jake Cronenworth, Jurickson Profar, Wil Myers, Ha-Seong Kim, and Victor Caratini all got the start. Cronenworth got the scoring started in the 1st, recording an RBI on a groundout, scoring Brian O’Grady, who reached on a lead-off triple.
The real excitement happened in the 6th. Jake Cronenworth struck again, this time with a double in the right-center gap to score Pedro Florimon.
Wil Myers then followed with a single, scoring Ivan Castillo, and then:
TWO-WAY PLAYER ALERT!!!
Craig Stammen showed his skills at the plate, recording a base hit in his sole plate appearance. He drove in a run after his shot back up the middle got deflected by Angels pitcher Ty Buttrey, scoring Tucupita Marcano.
Overall, a nice game, and a decided improvement over several of the games last week. Let’s hope this is the start of ramp up to the regular season. Onto news and notes!
- As already mentioned by several folks, the Padres plan to have RHP Dinelson Lamet make his first start of the spring on Wednesday, 24 March, against the Giants. This will be the major milestone for Lamet, as the team has privately acknowledged that they couldn’t be certain Lamet was back until he faced opposing hitters in game action. Considering that Lamet threw only 69 innings in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, there was no chance the Padres were ever going to ask him for a full workload in 2021, especially coming off an elbow injury.
- Sunday also marked an eventful day in the bench battle between OF Brian O’Grady and UT Jorge Mateo. O’Grady recorded 2 hits, including a leadoff triple against Angels RHP Shohei Ohtani. But he committed an error in the 3rd inning, dropping a David Fletcher liner in center field. Mateo, meanwhile, singled and worked a pair of walks and also nailed Ohtani from left field when he tried to stretch a single into a double.
- 1B Eric Hosmer felt the full effects of a stomach bug on Saturday and was sent home from Padres camp. But he went through a full workout on Sunday and is expected to play Monday, Tingler said.
- LF Tommy Pham is still dealing with hip soreness following his collision with the left-field wall on Saturday afternoon. He was held out of the lineup Sunday, but he, too, could return on Monday.
- With only 10 days to go to Opening Day, AJ Cassavell takes another stab at the Padres initial roster. Cassavell predicts the team will place C Austin Nola on the IL, at least to start the year, making room for young C Luis Campusano. He also believes that ultimately, UT Jorge Mateo will snag the final bench spot, given Brian O’Grady retains minor league options. Cassavell also predicts Dinelson Lamet won’t make the Opening Day roster, making room for LHP Adrian Morejon. As for the bullpen, in a somewhat surprising move, LHP Ryan Weathers, a lefty who can pitch several innings, takes Morejon’s spot as the swingman, especially with the lingering issues LHP Drew Pomeranz (forearm tightness), RHP Pierce Johnson (groin strain) and RHP Austin Adams (elbow) are currently facing.
- Even with the sheer number of deals and players dealt by AJ Preller (the team dealt 15 of its Top 30 prospects since August 2020), don’t think the Padres’ Farm System is suddenly bereft of talent. MLB Pipeline released its initial farm system rankings, and the Padres come in at 6th overall. The Padres system is highlighted by MLB Top 100 prospects MacKenzie Gore (#6), CJ Abrams (#8), Luis Campusano (#45), Robert Hassell III (#62), with RHP Mason Thompson a potential and INF Esteury Ruiz as potential additions to the Top 100, depending on how they recover from a lost year of development. Check out the article for the full breakdown.
- Speaking of Campusano, according to the SD-UT’s Kevin Acee, there are not many players the Padres expect more of in the coming years than the young catcher. The 3rd-ranked prospect, Campusano’s been one of the untouchable young players that virtually every trade partner has asked about and that the Padres have refused to even consider moving. “His being 22 years old and being in the mix already to be a big-league catcher,” Padres catcher coach Rod Barajas said Saturday, “there’s not many guys, kids (drafted out of) high school, especially, that are getting thrown in that mix.” Campusano still remains a work in progress behind the plate, looking relatively rough blocking and receiving the ball. And then there is the matter of calling a big-league game for a team that believes every game will count this season (he’s only caught 142 games between rookie ball and Hi-A minor league ball). But he’s catching on fast. Noted Barajas: “Last year he was really quiet. There wasn’t a lot of talking coming out of Campy’s mouth. This year that has completely changed. He is being more vocal, talking to pitchers, on the bench he is talking to me about game situations. … To me, the most important part of the game (for a catcher) is game management. He’s really taken some big steps forward. The fact he has opened up and … is trying to take in as much information as possible is a huge sign that things are moving in the right direction.”
- One thing you never have to worry about: LHP Blake Snell will always bring the intensity. “I don’t really take it easy,” Snell said. “It’s very important to me. When I’m out there, I don’t know when my last pitch is going to be so I’m going to make sure every one has intent, purpose and meaning behind it.” That said, Snell also doesn’t believe in getting pulled early. “I want to be the guy,” he said Sunday. “I want to go as far as I can go.” While the Padres want Snell to clean some things up (on average, Snell throws 4.23 pitches per batter, 72nd out of 73 qualifying pitchers since 2018, while also reaching full counts and 3-ball counts more often than most other pitchers, and gives up a higher OBA on 2-strike counts, than, say, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom and Yu Darvish), the Padres plan to push Snell — and allow him to push himself — as far as he can go in games.
- The Padres know they need to buckle down and refine some things as they prepare for Opening Day. One of the big items on their to-do list is the running game. “Usually, the biggest challenge is getting guys up and moving and finding out what they can and can’t do — not only for ourselves but for themselves as well,” manager Jayce Tingler said this past week. That hasn’t been a problem, as the Padres have been running wild. Their 22 attempts through their first 18 Cactus League games were 3rd-most in the majors. Unfortunately, they had also been caught an abysmal 50% of the time. The running game is an important component of Tingler’s Padres, with the plan to continue trying to take extra bases as much as any team.
- In injury news, LHP Drew Pomeranz (forearm) played catch up to a distance of about 100 feet Sunday while RHP Pierce Johnson (groin) long tossed at about 180 feet. The hope is both throw get game action this week and are ready for opening day. CF Trent Grisham took batting practice on the field, his first time doing so since suffering a hamstring strain on March 11. The expectation is he will play opening day. RHP Chris Paddack will take his regular turn in the rotation in a simulated game Tuesday while MacKenzie Gore pitches in the Padres’ Cactus League contest against the Cincinnati Reds. As for C Austin Nola, Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Saturday that Nola is expected to grip a bat in the next couple days and expressed optimism he will be ready for opening day. Of note, per MLB guidance, the earliest a player can be placed on the injured list is March 29, which means the earliest a player can come off the IL is April 8.
That’s it for today. RHP Joe Musgrove is scheduled to make his 4th start of the spring at 1305 Pacific against the Royals in Surprise, AZ today. Here’s the lineup: