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Padres Spring Training Round-up: March 23, 2021

Another tie?!?!?

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
Wil Myers, swinging away.
Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Good morning, all, and welcome to another day of Padres baseball! The Friars once again tied, this time against the Royals. A flurry of offense from both sides resulted in a 9-9 finish. RHP Joe Musgrove got his 4th start of the spring, and got tagged. Appearing to focus largely on fine-tuning his sinker, Musgrove struggled with his command, and the Royals took advantage. Musgrove worked 4+ innings, but got worked over to the tune of 8 hits, 2 BBs, and 5 runs, all earned, though 3 came off a home run after Musgrove departed; more on that in a sec. Musgrove did record 5 Ks, but safe to say, Musgrove will be focusing more on what not to do from this performance.

The bullpen didn’t do much better. RHP Emilio Pagan came in to pitch in the 5th after Musgrove allowed a walk and a single to start the inning. Pagan got a K before getting taken yard by Hunter Dozier. Pagan was followed by LHP Nick Ramirez, Michel Baez, Mason Thompson, and Miguel Diaz, who combined for 4 IP, giving up 4 hits, 2 BBs, 3 runs all earned, and 4 Ks.

The position players got their hacks in, though. LF Tommy Pham, perhaps in a sign of things to come, smashed 2 homers during the game, including an oppo shot to lead off the game. He followed that up in the 3rd, hitting a 2 run shot to deep left. I think those new contacts of his are working out for him.

After that, its was a plethora of back-ups into the game. Brian O’Grady, still fighting for an active roster spot, singled in the 6th, driving home 2 runs. John Andreoli, a minor league signee, doubled in 2 more runs in the 8th, and Tucupita Marcano, continuing his hot spring, also doubled home 2 runs, but got gunned down at 3rd trying to stretch it into a triple. Juan Fernandez, another minor leaguer, scored the final run in the 9th, homering to center field.

Not exactly a great sign of things to come, but slightly better than a lose. We’ll see how today goes. Onto news and notes:

  • While Tommy Pham has been logging some innings in center field, that doesn’t mean you should read too much into it. Pham is in center field just in case Trent Grisham isn’t fully built back from his hamstring strain for Opening Day. If Pham goes into center, the team would prefer to do so specifically when a high-strikeout/low-ground-ball starting pitcher is on the mound. “It’s kind of lined up with his hitting,” Tingler said. “I think he’s seeing the ball much better, and I think his jumps and reactions out there have been much better, as well. I do think he’s an option [for center field].”
  • Speaking of the outfield, expect to see Ha-Seong Kim start getting some reps out there. “We’ve just valued getting him comfortable,” Tingler said. “We valued getting used to working with his teammates on the infield, first and foremost.” Kim likely will begin to get reps in the outfield, probably left field, in the next few days. The Padres feel Kim is athletic enough to be an extremely valuable utility piece. That value only increases if he can add outfield to his skill set.
  • Tingler is remaining cagey about the team’s potential Opening Day starter. When asked, he would only say that it would be “someone taller than 6-foot-4.” For the record, Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Chris Paddack are all listed at 6’5”. Blake Snell, curiously, is listed at 6’4” a fact Tingler was seemingly unaware of until someone mentioned it. “He’s 6’5” when you get up on him,” Tingler responded with a grin. At least you can rule out LHP Adrian Morejon (he’s 5’11”).
  • Getting through the 162 games played over 6 months takes a lot of fortitude and a bit of luck, especially as it pertains to pitchers. That concern is only greater this year, as teams navigate the jump from only 60 games last season. Padres manager Jayce Tingler has referred at least a dozen times in the past few weeks to the emphasis on pitcher health. That was evident when, in response to a question about 2-way star Craig Stammen’s single in Sunday’s game, Tingler spoke about the concern he has for injuries, specifically for his pitchers. “Your heart stops as he’s going down the line and he was smelling a hit and opening up,” Tingler said. “… From a manager’s perspective, it’s scary... The health and safety of these guys is very important — and doing everything we can to keep them on the field.” To that end, the Padres are one of several NL teams holding out hope that MLB reinstates the universal DH for 2021 to help preserve the overall health of the pitching staff. Over the past 3 full seasons (2017-19), 12 of the 15 NL playoff teams had at least one pitcher make a minimum of 30 starts, 10 had 2, and 7 had 3. Of those 15 playoff teams, 10 had at least 3 pitchers throw at least 160 innings. Numerous baseball people, while professing there is no way to know what some pitchers might be able to do, estimate 160 or so innings is probably about the ceiling for most starting pitchers this season after the bulk of them ended up in the 50- to 70-inning range while making nine to 12 starts in 2020.
  • C Luis Campusano had his team-high 4th double of the spring. The 22-year-old catcher walked twice in his 4 times up. He is batting .258 with a .361 on-base percentage in 36 plate appearances this spring, though he did allow a passed ball as well yesterday.
  • The battle for the final roster spot continues. OF Brian O’Grady, battling for what could be one bench spot, was 1-4 and has 9 hits in his past 22 at-bats after starting the spring 0-12. UT Jorge Mateo, also trying to be on the roster, went 1-5 with a double and is batting .318/.426 in a team-high 54 plate appearances.
  • In injury news, 1B Eric Hosmer returned to the lineup after battling a stomach bug the past few days. He went 1-3 and played 5 innings. Also, a day after taking on-field batting practice for the first time, CF Trent Grisham played catch. The hope is Grisham, who suffered a hamstring strain March 11, can continue to progress without setback and be ready opening day. The Padres, however, have said they won’t push it. Also, minor league RHP Jacob Nix underwent Tommy John surgery last week. He’ll be out for at least a year.

That’s it for today. LHP MacKenzie Gore gets the start today against the Reds, with 1st pitch set for 1310 Pacific in Peoria. Here’s the lineup: