San Diego Padres Opening Day is almost here! It will be a huge weekend for San Diego sports in general but what should Padres fans specifically be looking out for this weekend?
Xander Bogaerts’ Padres Debut
We obviously saw Bogaerts play during Spring Training but he hasn’t yet played a game at Petco Park in the brown and gold. How will he perform in his first regular season series? In six career games at Petco, Bogaerts is 4-for-20 with 2 RBI.
Blake Snell on Opening Day
Snell may have gotten the Opening Day start because Joe Musgrove got hurt and Yu Darvish wasn’t ramped up, but that doesn’t mean we should think of him as just a normal number three starter in the rotation.
In the second half of the season in his career, Snell owns a 2.68 ERA in nearly 350 innings of work, which is way better than his 4.05 first half ERA (413 innings). Those aren’t small sample sizes. Why can’t he pitch like he does in the second half of seasons all year long? If there was ever a year for him to do it, this might be the year.
Snell is a free agent at the end of this season and on a contending ball club that will have a ton of eyes on them in 2023. Is he going to be second half Snell or first half Snell? We will find out in due time and it all starts on Thursday.
Rougned Odor’s Role
Odor wasn’t even on the team entering Spring Training but impressed once he signed a minor league deal and there’s been talk that he could start in right field on Opening Day, as he was taking reps in the outfield during the last week or so of Spring Training.
The 29-year-old left-handed hitter could also play second base if a tough right-hander is on the mound with Ha-Seong Kim being on the bench, Jake Cronenworth staying at first base and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter DHing.
So how many games will Odor start and which positions will he play?
Jurickson Profar’s Return
Profar played a key role in the Padres NLCS run last season, hitting 16 home runs (including the postseason) and posting a 111 OPS+. Profar will of course be making his Colorado Rockies regular season debut on Opening Day after what had to feel like an incredibly long offseason. He didn’t sign a major league deal until after playing for Team Netherlands in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Profar took less than $2 million more from the Rockies than what he would’ve been guaranteed with the Padres if he took the player option at the beginning of the offseason. What type of reception will he be getting from the Friar Faithful on Thursday?
Who’ll Hit the First Home Run?
German Marquez is expected to be a tough matchup for the Padres so a home run isn’t guaranteed on Thursday but I feel safe guaranteeing one home run over the course of the first four games. Will the first Padres home run of 2023 come from NL MVP favorite Juan Soto or will it be from someone we’re not expecting such as Rougned Odor? Time will tell.