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Padres Spring Training Round-up: March 24th, 2021

Let’s start bubble-wrapping some of these guys, yeah?

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Everybody still breathing? Ok, good.

The Padres won yesterday over the Reds, 5-4, but the bigger story is what happened to Face of MLB, Fernando Tatis Jr. Ranging to his right, FTJ made a backhand play on a groundball, then fired to 1B to catch Reds 2B Jonathan India. FTJ immediately expressed discomfort, then headed to the dugout. Postgame, the Padres described the injury as “left shoulder discomfort, and he’ll be reevaluated today, though the team is confident FTJ will be back in a few days. Manager Jayce Tingler noted that this is something FTJ has dealt with over the years. “Talking to Fernando, he didn’t think it was that bad,” Tingler said. “He’s like: ‘In season, I would probably go.’ Obviously we’re going to be precautious.”

So! Let’s look at the rest of the game. While RHP Chris Paddack was throwing a sim game, LHP MacKenzie Gore got the start against the Reds. Gore did well against a lineup featuring several Reds regulars, going 3.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 free pass for 2 runs, both earned, off a Nick Castellanos homer in the 3rd. The bullpen followed, logging 5.1 innings and allowing a combined 4 hits and 3 BBs for 2 runs )both earned while K-ing 6. LHP Tim Hill was the only projected regular to appear, so I’d take the bullpen’s struggles with a grain of salt.

Over on the position player side, the offense got going early. The team scored 3 runs to start off the 1st inning. 3B Manny Machado recorded a ground-out RBI, bringing home LF Tommy Pham (Pham, Jake Cronenworth, and FTJ all singled to start the game). 1B Eric Hosmer then also got a ground-out RBI, scoring Cro but erasing Machado. RF Wil Myers then singled home Hosmer, and just like that, the Padres led, 3-0. The Reds then clawed back to tie the game in the 5th, but the Padres then retook the lead for good in the 7th. Tucupita Marcano, continuing his hot spring, doubled home 2 runs, but again got gunned down trying to stretch the double into a triple.

So a fine ending, despite the drama. Maybe time to start bubble-wrapping some folks and sending them back to San Diego early, maybe? Let’s get to news and notes.

  • As noted yesterday, FTJ has apparently been dealing with shoulder issues for some time now. The team noted Tatis often had the area taped up for games last year, and they believe a hard slide at home plate may have aggravated the area, which initially caused the young phenom to sit for about 6 days. “He’s managed it through the years,” Tingler said. “It comes and goes over the years. He does a pretty good job of managing it. He’s got a good feel for when it gets bad and when it’s not too bad. He’s disciplined with his treatment and what he does to keep it good and strong. … We as a group just have to stay very on top of it.” Though it appears FTJ escaped without serious injury (“He’s fine,” said one person close to him), the consensus was pretty clear: “Ready to get back to San Diego.”
  • Despite the recent struggles by INF Ha-Seong Kim at the plate, the team remains staunch believers in the KBO product. “We have zero panic, just because of the way he’s going about his business, the way he sees the ball, the balance,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler said on Tuesday morning. “There’s some adjustments to be made, and he’s working on those things.” Kim proceeded to post arguably his best day of the spring: Kim doubled against Chris Paddack in a simulated back-field game in the morning, then rapped a sharp single to left against Reds lefty Cionel Pérez in the Padres’ 5-4 win that afternoon. While the Padres expect an adjustment period, sources indicate that adjusting won’t impact Kim’s status on the roster, even though his contract includes Minor League options. Barring something unforeseen, Kim remains a near lock to make the team. He can play all 4 infield spots, and the Padres plan to give him a few reps in left field over the next week. They want that kind of versatility on their roster.
  • As mentioned above, RHP Chris Paddack threw 5 simulated innings on the back fields yesterday, and looked about as good as you could. Paddack K’d 6 and allowed just 3 hits. He walked one, then just grazed Jurickson Profar’s sleeve for a HBP. But, based on the adjudications of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Paddack didn’t allow a run while facing a 5-man rotation of hitters (Kim, Grisham, Mateo, Profar and Nick Tanielu). Paddack also mixed in 3 pitches reliably, his fastball, change-up, and curve.
  • In injury news/updates, LHP Drew Pomeranz will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday, as he works his way back from the left forearm tightness that has kept him out of action for two weeks. If all goes well on Wednesday, Pomeranz could pitch Friday night against the Mariners. C Austin Nola caught Pomeranz’s bullpen session on Monday, a noteworthy step as the catcher recovers from his fractured left middle finger. Nola’s status for Opening Day remains a question mark as he’s yet to resume hitting, but he’s reported no ill effects while receiving or defending. CF Trent Grisham remains on track for Opening Day. Though he’s yet to resume running at 100%, he’s still getting live at bats on the backfield, a good sign. Reliever Pierce Johnson, who left a game March 16 with a groin strain, threw a bullpen session Tuesday.
  • The Padres are convinced that, based on what they’ve seen so far this spring from LHP MacKenzie Gore, he will help them at some point this season. Now it’s just a question of when. Tuesday was Gore’s best outing of the spring, mixing all 4 of his pitches in and around the zone, something he had struggled with previously. “Much better today,” Gore said. “I was in the zone a lot more. Definitely a good one to build off. … We’ve watched the last few outings. The stuff had been good, but the command just wasn’t very good. It was just tighten up the command and we’re in a good spot. I thought we did a much better job of that today.” This isn’t one of those seasons in the recent past where they can let their major league club essentially be an enhanced AAA team where promising players develop. Instead, the team will look for the right opportunities to deploy Gore effectively, which may mean out of the bullpen, something they’ve previously not considered. “We’re not going to pigeonhole anyone,” Tingler said.
  • OF Tucupita Marcano, the Padres’ 3rd-ranked position player, hit his 4th double of the spring and is batting .467 with a 1.310 OPS. Both numbers are tops in the Cactus League among players with at least 35 plate appearances.
  • RHP Nabil Crismatt, who entered the game having thrown 8 scoreless innings this spring, relieved Gore and got the 3rd out before allowing a run in the 5th inning. It was the earliest Crismatt had pitched in a game all spring with the idea being for him to face better hitters, as the Padres look to test the non-roster invitee who made his big-league debut for the Cardinals last season. Same will go for RHP Reiss Knehr. He pitched 1.1 hitless innings Tuesday, walking 1and striking out 2. He’s allowed 2 runs on 5 Hits while K-ing 9 in 7.1 innings this spring.
  • While the Padres are still figuring out the final composition of their Opening Day roster, it looks like they’ve settled on their initial starting rotation: Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Chris Paddack and Adrian Morejon. This alignment would require the Padres, provided everyone is healthy, to insert a 6th starter just once in their stretch of 17 straight games from April 9 to 25. That could mean LHPs Ryan Weathers or MacKenzie Gore make a start on, say, April 19 against the Brewers. Or it could mean RHP Dinelson Lamet, provided he’s healthy and ready to go by then. The main concern for the Padres is the health of their pitching staff, something they’ll closely monitor all year, and especially in the first half. “Early on — and by early on, it could be the first half of the season — you have to really be cognizant of what’s going on and exactly where they are with stuff,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said in reference to monitoring pitchers’ arms. “You’d like to stop it before they hit the wall. Sometimes that is too late; that’s a longer recovery period than if they’re just tired one day. It could be after one game. Those are things you have to recognize and look at.”

That’s it for today. RHP Dinelson Lamet will make his much awaited spring debut today against the Giants in Scottsdale. It won’t be for long, as he’s only scheduled to go 1 inning, and he’ll be followed by LHP Adrian Morejón, the presumptive 5th man in the Padres’ starting rotation. First pitch is set for 1905 Pacific.