<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Padres]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/feature/san-diego-padres http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usTue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:35 -0800Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:35 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[How Padres' Hedges Learned to Hit]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:32:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/Austin+Hedges+Mask.JPG

In 2011 Austin Hedges was the best defensive high school catcher available in the MLB Draft.

In 2015 Austin Hedges was the best defensive catching prospect in professional baseball.

In 2017 Austin Hedges is the starting catcher for the San Diego Padres because he’s the best defensive catcher in the National League West. But for the first time this year Hedges is not just being touted as a defensive wizard.

“He’s got some great hands and he’s got some power in there so we kind of unlocked that a little bit,” said Padres Hitting Coach Alan Zinter, who offered the key to the lock. “He totally revamped his fundamental approach to hitting and changed his mechanics.”

Zinter suggested Hedges add a bigger, earlier leg kick in order to get his body in motion towards the baseball more effectively. Hedges applied it and last year at Triple-A El Paso had the best offensive season of his life with 22 home runs and a .326 batting average.

“I think it just puts me in a stronger position once I land,” said Hedges, who opened Cactus League play with hits in his first four at-bats (two singles, two doubles, all hit hard). “What worked for me last year was being on time. I got my leg up on time, it allowed me to see the baseball and ultimately hit the ball harder. I think this year the only adjustment is to be a little quieter with it without falling forward and staying behind the baseball and be a little more disciplined.”

With any extra movement comes the potential for a brand new pitfall. A different leg kick can lead to over-striding and defeating the whole purpose of staying on time.

“That’s exactly what I’m working on right now,” said Hedges. “That’s just staying on your back leg a little bit more. Once that back leg gets weak it kind of creeps forward. That’s where you over-stride and start falling forward and not really seeing the ball as well.”

Hedges has a ridiculously high baseball IQ. It’s one of the things that helps him behind the plate so much. His ability to understand concepts and apply them effectively could elevate him from great defensive catcher to perennial All-Star catcher.

“I think he can be an offensive threat,” said Zinter. “I think he can be one of the better offensive catchers in the league for many years to come. With what he brings to the table and his mindset, the way he goes about his business … I’ve seen in happen before so I’m pulling for him.”

Hedges says his catching idol is Yadier Molina, who is the consensus BEST defensive catcher in the game. In his first three seasons Yadi hit .238. Then in 2007 something clicked and since then he’s hit .294. It is a monster jump but if Hedges has had even a similar kind of offensive “AH-HA!!” moment he’ll be on the short list of the best all-around catchers in Major League Baseball.

In 2011 Austin Hedges was the best defensive high school catcher available in the MLB Draft.

 

In 2015 Austin Hedges was the best defensive catching prospect in professional baseball.

 

In 2017 Austin Hedges is the starting catcher for the San Diego Padres because he’s the best defensive catcher in the National League West. But for the first time this year Hedges is not just being touted as a defensive wizard.

 

“He’s got some great hands and he’s got some power in there so we kind of unlocked that a little bit,” said Padres Hitting Coach Alan Zinter, who offered the key to the lock. “He totally revamped his fundamental approach to hitting and changed his mechanics.”

 

Zinter suggested Hedges add a bigger, earlier leg kick in order to get his body in motion towards the baseball more effectively. Hedges applied it and last year at Triple-A El Paso had the best offensive season of his life with 22 home runs and a .326 batting average.

 

“I think it just puts me in a stronger position once I land,” said Hedges, who opened Cactus League play with hits in his first four at-bats (two singles, two doubles, all hit hard). “What worked for me last year was being on time. I got my leg up on time, it allowed me to see the baseball and ultimately hit the ball harder. I think this year the only adjustment is to be a little quieter with it without falling forward and staying behind the baseball and be a little more disciplined.”

 

With any extra movement comes the potential for a brand new pitfall. A different leg kick can lead to over-striding and defeating the whole purpose of staying on time.

 

“That’s exactly what I’m working on right now,” said Hedges. “That’s just staying on your back leg a little bit more. Once that back leg gets weak it kind of creeps forward. That’s where you over-stride and start falling forward and not really seeing the ball as well.”

 

Hedges has a ridiculously high baseball IQ. It’s one of the things that helps him behind the plate so much. His ability to understand concepts and apply them effectively could elevate him from great defensive catcher to perennial All-Star catcher.

 

“I think he can be an offensive threat,” said Zinter. “I think he can be one of the better offensive catchers in the league for many years to come. With what he brings to the table and his mindset, the way he goes about his business … I’ve seen in happen before so I’m pulling for him.”

 

Hedges says his catching idol is Yadier Molina, who is the consensus BEST defensive catcher in the game. In his first three seasons Yadi hit .238. Then in 2007 something clicked and since then he’s hit .294. It is a monster jump but if Hedges has had even a similar kind of offensive “AH-HA!!” moment he’ll be on the short list of the best all-around catchers in Major League Baseball.

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<![CDATA[Padres Reliever Explains Funky Delivery]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:21:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Capps+Delivery+GIF.gif

Carter Capps can be a problem.

Not for the Padres, of course. Capps is an extremely likable guy who San Diego Manager Andy Green has singled out as a pitcher who goes about the game of baseball the right way.

The 26-year-old reliever can be a problem for opposing hitters … and for Major League Baseball rules enforcers.

Capps was tremendous coming out of the Marlins bullpen in 2015. In 31 innings he only allowed four earned runs while striking out 58 hitters with just seven walks. So he is a problem for guys who face him.

But Capps has a very interesting delivery that has put MLB in a bit of a pickle. As a reliever Capps pitches exclusively out of the stretch. When he comes to the plate he slides down the mound, almost like a hop-step, and then completes the pitch. In the minor leagues Capps had umpires ding him for an illegal pitch.

However he has never been called for a balk at the big league level. Most people seem to believe a pitcher’s foot must be in contact with the rubber while delivering a pitch. However in the Major League Baseball 2016 Official Rulebook the only time the phrase “disengaging the rubber” is used is when discussing pickoff attempts.

When dealing with throwing the actual pitch we refer to Rule 5.07(a)(2) which reads in part … “After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.”

THAT is what saves Capps and his funky delivery. Since it is something he does on a consistent basis it is part of his “natural motion” even though it is completely unnatural. MLB talked to Capps about his delivery and told him it’s cool … as long as he doesn’t get too carried away with it.

"They just said they wanted me to make sure I dragged my foot and not get too elevated in the air, and make sure it's more on a lateral plane," said Capps in an interview with MLB.com. "As long as I do that, they have no problem with it."

Now the question is: How did Capps come up with this delivery in the first place? He told that part of the story to NBC 7 SportsWrap.

Capps missed the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Padres acquired him Miami in the Andrew Cashner trade, seeing his potential if he could make it back from an elbow reconstruction and it looks like the gamble is going to pay off. Capps says he’s healthy and expects to be ready to bring his funky delivery to the mound by Opening Day.

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<![CDATA[Weaver Ready to "Prove A Lot of People Wrong"]]> Sat, 25 Feb 2017 13:59:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Weaver+Padres.png

For the first nine seasons of his Major League Baseball career Jered Weaver was one of the most effective starting pitchers in baseball. He went to three straight All-Star Games, finishing in the top-5 in Cy Young balloting each season.

During that stretch he was averaging 89-90 miles per hour on his fastball (according to Fangraphs). Then in 2013 that velocity dipped to 86 MPH and his earned run average jumped more than half a run per game.

In 2015 his fastball dropped to an average of 84 MPH and all of a sudden he had lots of problems getting guys out. It got so bad that in the middle of the 2016 season Weaver thought that, at the age of 34, his professional baseball career was over.

“There were times during the year last year when I thought about shutting it down,” said Weaver, meaning he contemplated retirement. But then something he had been working on for a while started to pay off and gave him second thoughts.

“I just really haven’t paid attention to flexibility,” said Weaver. “I’ve always been good at the conditioning part of it but stretching was kind of my kryptonite. I didn’t really enjoy that but as you get older you get a lot more miles on your body. You come to a point where you’ve got to change some stuff up physically. I’ve done that over the course of the last year and a half.”

Weaver’s flexibility training eventually started to pay off, and just in time.

“It’s taken a lot longer than I thought to knock the tightness out but it’s coming along. My last five starts of the season last year I started feeling like my old self and decided to give this another try and here I am with San Diego with an opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong.”

His last five starts were indeed better than the bulk of his regular season, good enough to make him want to come back again. The Padres had a need in their starting rotation. They were also looking for a mentor for their crop of younger players. They think Weaver can fill both roles.

“I’m here for whatever they need help with,” said Weaver, who made his MLB debut at the age of 23. “Any knowledge that they need I’m here for them. That’s why I came here.”

Weaver’s Angels made four trips to the post-season while he was there. He is not predicting a playoff run this year in San Diego but sees a lot more potential than most people do.

“There are a lot of people that don’t expect much from us,” said Weaver. “But outsiders aren’t the ones that go out on the field. We’re the only ones that can dictate what we’re going to do so we’re going to work hard here in the spring and try to carry that over in to the season.”

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<![CDATA[Myers Takes on Leadership Role for Padres]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 14:04:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/Wil+Myers+Swing+Finish.JPG

The Padres are so young in 2016 that Wil Myers has the 6th-most MLB service time of anyone on the 40-man roster.

Please keep in mind that Wil Myers only has three full seasons of big league experience. Still, the All-Star 1st baseman is being counted on as a leader, something that at the age of 26 is just a shade odd to him.

“Yeah a little bit,” said Myers. “I’m still young. I don’t feel like I’m an older guy on the team. I just want these guys to go out there and learn from themselves. I think the best teacher is experience and if I can help them in any way obviously I will.”

In 2013 Myers was the American League Rookie of the Year for Tampa Bay. He knows what it’s like to be in the spotlight at an early age and he’s sharing his experience with some of the young players who are expected to have an impact on the big league level.

For example, right fielder Hunter Renfroe made a huge splash in September with four home runs and 14 RBI in just 11 games. He is penciled in to be the everyday right fielder so Myers took the rookie aside to do some leading.

“I talked to Renfroe this off-season about kind of forgetting about his good year last year and moving on this year because I know, for me, it could be easy to look back on that one year and say ‘Well I’ve arrived’ and not work as hard. So I told him to forget about that year and get ready for this year,” said Myers.

Myers is a loose guy. He’s the kind of player who keeps things light in the clubhouse and doesn’t let the everyday grind of a 162-game season wear on him.

“When you talk about a leader I think it’s just somebody who’s authentic. I don’t want to change anything about who I am. I just want to try to lead by example and do the best I can in that way.”

Padres Manager Andy Green wants Myers to keep that same positive outlook while growing in to his new leadership role.

“I want Wil to play the game hard, intelligent, will a smile on his face, which is how he plays,” said Green. “I want guys to feed off the energy he brings to the ballpark. He’s learning more and more what it means to be willing to step up and speak.”

That little change … being a bit more vocal … has already caught hold, and it’s working.

“I’ve been very impressed with him so far this year,” said 24-year-old catcher Austin Hedges, who will be the Opening Day starter behind the plate. “You can tell that he wants to take on that role. He wants to be the guy that we can rely on day in and day out. So far this spring the work that he’s put in and what he’s been saying as a vocal leader is very impressive. I’m looking forward to following him this year.”

At least one odds maker has the Padres over/under win total at 64.5 games, the lowest in Major League Baseball. Myers hears that and thinks the 2017 San Diego Padres are an undervalued asset.

“I definitely think people are underestimating us. We have a very talented position player group. I think we definitely can surprise some people but, yeah, it is kind of a rebuilding year. We’re going to go out there and learn from each other and figure out ways to compete every day but we’re also going to create the new culture here and go from there.”

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<![CDATA[Padres Manager Has New Rules Ideas]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:43:52 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AndyGreenMeme.jpg

Major League Baseball is considering a few rules changes. They’re designed to increase the pace of play and add some excitement to the game, trying to boost viewership and appeal to a younger fan base.

Among the ideas are a pitch clock to keep guys on the mound from grinding the game to a halt when runners are on base and, when a game goes to extra innings, starting each half inning with a runner already standing at 2nd base.

Padres Manager Andy Green is one of the most progressive thinkers in the game. He has a suggestion that is radical but could be insanely exciting.

“If it was up to me,” said Green, “probably after the 12th inning I’d have a home run derby and the winning team gets the win. So after you go 12, home run derby … I think the fans would gravitate towards that.”

The idea is intriguing. It’s not unlike penalty kicks in soccer or a shootout in hockey. As he usually does Green has thought this thing through. One of the benefits for a manager is not having to tax a pitching staff the way a long extra-inning affair does, and the Padres certainly have a propensity for playing loooooooong extra-inning games.

“Save the arms, let those guys hit. Guys would love that,” said Green. “Maybe even have a (coaching) staff member hit and we’ve got Big Mac [bench coach Mark McGwire and his 583 career home runs] so I like our chances.”

Green says each team could put their own batting practice pitcher on the bump and let the baseballs start flying.

“You get 10 swings, you get three guys you put out there and whoever hits the most homers … that’s going to be exciting.”

Of course it also greatly favors American League teams who have a designated hitter and teams like, say, the Miami Marlins and reigning Home Run Derby champion Giancarlo Stanton.

“We won’t go to extra innings with them,” said Green.

MLB has already done away with 4-pitch intentional walks in an effort to speed games up. Now if it really wants to add excitement, perhaps they ought to listen to Green. Or, just have every big league ballgame played in San Diego.

“Our park does that,” said Green about adding excitement to the game. “You come out to Petco; you see the atmosphere that exists there. You see the big TV, the food; it’s just a great place to spend an evening. I don’t think we have to do anything in the game of baseball. The pace of baseball is what it is. I think it’s enjoyable to sit there and have a conversation and watch a game closely and dissect it. For people that aren’t inclined to do that I don’t really have another recipe. It’s a great place to hang out. It’s the best place in baseball.”

Whether you like the HR Derby idea or not you won’t find many San Diegans who are going to argue with that last point.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Attitude at Padres Spring Training]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:31:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/2017+Preller+at+Spring+Training.png

One of the things that immediately sticks out about San Diego Padres Spring Training 2017 is how different it is from Spring Training 2016 or 2015. If the Friars were looking to change the vibe in the clubhouse … which they were … it’s working.

“I think the vibe is unbelievably different,” said outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who is entering his 5th season with the Padres organization but his first as a favorite to win a job on Opening Day. “I think it’s moved more towards a positive attitude and everybody’s having a great time. Everybody’s played with each other for a long time now. Even the new guys that have come in have embraced the movement here.”

Of course that begs the question: What was causing the past negativity?

“It wasn’t negativity it’s just a different mood,” said Renfroe. “Obviously he had some older guys and you try to … I guess … walk on egg shells because you don’t want to insult them. You want to watch them and try to be part of them. I think it’s a deal now where the younger guys are just open and, not necessarily to what they want to do, but they’ve learned from the older guys. Just have fun and relax.”

Last year the clubhouse was dominated by veterans like Matt Kemp and James Shields. Deserved or not, they had the reputation of not being tremendous teammates off the field, although the Padres say the change in culture is not due to any specific individuals.

“I don’t think my tone is relaxed to them when I’m calling them to a higher level of attention to detail,” said Manager Andy Green. “I’m sure the clubhouse environment has changed substantially as there’s been a turning over of the guard from last year’s Spring to this year. Naturally when you’ve played with guys through Triple-A you know them better so it’s a much more relaxing atmosphere in that regard. I don’t think it’s a slight on anybody who was here in the past. You just don’t walk in to the clubhouse and see 35 new faces that you’ve never been around. That’s uncomfortable for anybody. All these guys know each other very, very well and the new guys we’ve brought in have assimilated very quickly.”

The change is noticeable to guys who are familiar with the organization … and even those who are new to it.

“A lot of energy here,” said relief pitcher Keith Hessler, a 27-year-old left-hander who made his big league debut in 2015 with the Diamondbacks. “A lot of great talent; a lot of young players. We believe what Andy is telling us and buying in to the program.”

This is the first time Hessler has spent Spring Training with the Padres. He sees the Padres running things in a unique way because they have so much young talent they need to be in teacher mode.

“It’s a little bit different because it’s teacher mode,” said Hessler. “You can’t just roll balls out and say guys, we understand you’ve been here for a long time so go have fun and get ready for the season. You need to teach guys the right way to do it to be successful for a long time. So it’s kind of different but I like it.”

“It’s just fun,” said pitcher Tyrell Jenkins, a 24-year-old right-hander who was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati. “A bunch of young guys all the same age after the same goal.”

So does that lead to camaraderie … or competition?

“Both,” said Jenkins. “We all know it’s competition to get the spots you need and we’re all out here learning from each other. It’s good to have guys your age you can talk to about certain things and get along with.”

With 21 of the players on the 40-man roster between the ages of 24 and 26, this is a group that the Padres hope will grow together for a long time.

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<![CDATA[Padres Try A Strange New Experiment]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 17:39:10 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Christian+Bethancourt+Pitching+2016.JPG

In baseball you have utility players. Those are guys who can man multiple positions effectively. Usually those players specialize in being around the infield and dabbling in the outfield.

The Padres are turning Christian Bethancourt in to a completely different kind of utility player.

He is a catcher by trade … an outfielder by necessity … and now a relief pitcher by curiosity. Last year Bethancourt made his big league pitching debut, going 1.2 innings over two appearances and not allowing a run.

The Friars were encouraged enough that when the season ended they asked him to focus more on throwing off a mound.

“I did work a lot on it, especially when I was in Panama,” said Bethancourt, who played winter ball in his native country during the off-season. “I was playing left field every day and pitching three times a week. I put a lot of emphasis on my mechanics and watching a lot of videos comparing myself to other pitchers just to get a feeling and see how it goes. I feel like I’m in a pretty good position right now.”

Bethancourt arrived in Peoria, AZ, for Spring Training expecting to work with the pitchers but he’s not trading in his catcher’s mask or outfield glove fully quite yet. He is still a viable offensive threat. Despite a high strikeout rate Bethancourt packs 20-home run potential at the plate.

But it is awfully hard to ignore a mid-to-high-90’s heater so San Diego is exploring this incredibly unique opportunity.

“Obviously my fastball is my best pitch,” said Bethancourt. “My changeup will be my second-best pitch; slider is still a work in progress.”

Bethancourt is trying to slow down his slider to give it more depth. Right now he throws it so hard it doesn’t have much bite to it, coming off more like a cut fastball. But velocity is something that comes natural to the 25-year-old.

“My expectation is he just has a nice, relatively easy side (session),” said manager Andy Green. “His expectation, probably, is he throws 95 MPH so we’re going to try and dial that back a little bit and make sure his body is in a good position.”

That’s how the Padres will handle Bethancourt for the beginning of Spring Training when it comes to his pitching workload. In Panama his fastball is routinely in the mind-90’s and he can probably reach back for a little more if he needs to, but the Friars want to make sure he’s doing it safely so nothing will be rushed.

“I think just get him off the mound, see where the mechanics have changed from when we first put him on the mound last year,” said Green about what he would like to see from Bethancourt in the early going. “That’s about it. He’ll go through PFP’s (Pitchers Fielding Practice) and stuff that he’s not normally accustomed to doing so that will be different for him as well.”

Last season Bethancourt spent 322 innings at catcher, 42 innings in left field and 31 innings in right field … but it’s those 1.2 innings atop a 10-inch mound of dirt that could have unlocked his true baseball future.

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<![CDATA[Padres Add Another Veteran Starter]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 15:19:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/188*120/Jered+Weaver+Angels+Good-Bye.JPG

As if the San Diego Padres did not have enough question marks in their starting rotation, another veteran arm is joining the quagmire on the mound.

Jered Weaver, who has spent his entire 11-year career with the Angels, agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal to join the Padres. The signing was made official on Sunday.

Weaver was drafted by the Angels in 2004 and made his MLB debut two years later. From that first start through 2014 Weaver was one of the better pitchers in baseball, a 3-time All-Star who was extremely durable, making at least 24 starts every season.

But in 2015 he suffered his first losing season and watched his ERA balloon more than a run to 4.64. He continued to struggle in 2016, giving up a league-leading 37 home runs.

One thing Weaver does have, though, is moxie. He’s known as one of the game’s fiercest competitors. The Padres are hoping his bulldog persona can set the tone for the pitching staff and rub off on the younger guys in camp. They’re also hoping he can show a little of his old form and eat a lot of innings.

Weaver joins the extended mix of players going after five starting spots. He already knows Jhoulys Chacin, who pitched with him in Anaheim last year. Fellow veterans Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard are also viewed as frontrunners for a starting role.

After that the list of guys in the competition for a starting spot includes Luis Perdomo (last year’s leader in wins), Christian Friedrich, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens, Tyrell Jenkins and Dinelson Limet … plus anyone else who might be added in the coming days.

To make room on the 40-man roster the Padres moved starting pitcher Colin Rea, who is recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery, to the 60-day disabled list.

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<![CDATA[Latest Padres Rebuild Starts This Week]]> Sun, 12 Feb 2017 17:45:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Hunter+Renfroe+HR.JPG

For Padres fans “rebuilding” is a 4-letter word. Yet in 2017 it is the state of affairs for San Diego’s professional baseball team. However, to hear at least one high-profile Padre tell it, this time they seem to have found the formula for constructing a solid foundation.

“Our franchise is a little bit on the rebuild phase of things,” said former closer Trevor Hoffman, who serves as a Spring Training instructor for the Padres. “We’ve got a unique opportunity to get back in on ground level and watch these guys grow.”

When workouts start on Wednesday, February 15, in Peoria, AZ, the man who will no doubt be in the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2018 will start working with the young group of Padres who might not have any idea what his big league resume looks like.

“I’ve gotta re-introduce myself,” said Hoffy, saying this time the re-imagining of the San Diego Padres feels just a little bit different.

“We’ve gone through this before. But I love the fact that we’re kind of all-in. It’s not like a half-in; half the roster is the kinds of guys that are retreads in a sense trying to still make a living and kicking it around. I think the youth is the direction you need to go.”

That of course means the fan base is going to … once again … have to be patient. Which is a big ask for a group that has not seen a post-season game won since 2006.

“Prospects are a commodity that can be utilized in different ways,” said Hoffman, perhaps hinting that if the Padres do jump in to contention with their group of higher-level prospects the younger guys could be used as trade bait in a playoff push. “I think people will buy in long-term if they understand that the process is something you’re committed to.”

Manager Andy Green concurs, looking forward to the chance to take a young team and really start teaching the game from the ground up.

“There’s real excitement when you get to deal with a young, impressionable, hungry baseball player,” said Green. “You get to help them propel themselves forward in their careers and chase down dreams they’ve had since they were little boys. That’s a fulfilling part of the job. I think this young group, especially of position players, there’s a ton of possibility out front. They all have things they’ve gotta work on and we’re willing to start drilling down those things in the next couple of days.”

At the start of Spring Training the Padres will have exactly one player on their 40-man roster over the age of 29. That’s left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter, who turns 30 the day he reports. A year ago Green could rely on veterans like Jon Jay and James Shields to lead the group. This year, who does he have for the youngsters to rely on?

“We have Clayton Richard in camp right now,” said Green. “He’s a guy on the pitching staff side we’re going to lean a lot on. Jhoulys Chacin is a veteran pitcher. I’m a big fan of the way Carter Capps goes about doing things. He’s back healthy and has already been throwing in Arizona. On the position player side we’re going to look at Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte. We’re young there and we’re going to embrace that.”

Green says the coaching staff, from himself to Darren Balsley to Mark McGwire to Alan Zinter, will take more of a leadership role instead of relying on veteran players. It’s one of several changes he sees taking place in his second go-round as a big league skipper.

“There are changes, but there are still similarities. There’ll still be music piping in Peoria, there’s still going to be energy there. There are things we’re going to focus on that will be a better use of our time than some of the things we did last year. Overall it’s going to be about good, fundamentally-sound baseball. You don’t redefine that wheel you just get back to going it.”

Having a guy like Hoffman around can certainly help. A stickler for routine and details, the 7-time All-Star embraces the chance to show young players what it takes to be Major Leaguers.

“I always look to get back to say, Hey there’s a pot hole coming up that I stepped in pretty good so try and stay away from that,” said Hoffman. “They’re going to have to learn on their own. They’re going to have to learn on their own and go through it themselves. It never hurts until you get smacked in the face your own way. To be able to learn at this level; it’s hard to explain how important that is.”

The 2017 Padres will have to endure a lot of growing pains (and likely a lot of losses) but unlike past installments they should not be boring to watch. If enough of the youngsters develop the way the Friars expect them to then this rebuild should end up with them being exciting in October games in the next few years.

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<![CDATA[Padres Finalize Non-Roster Invites]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 17:24:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Andy+Green+Peoria+Office.JPG

The Padres released their list of non-roster invitees for 2017 Spring Training. These are the guys who are not on the protected 40-man list like minor league prospects trying to get an early jump on their MLB careers and veterans looking to catch on one more time.

On the list are guys like Hector Sanchez, who played well for the Friars last year and has a good chance to be one of the backup catchers to Austin Hedges, and outfielder Jabari Blash, who still captures the imagination with his pure power potential.

But there are also a few guys who could be surprise contributors a lot sooner than expected, especially in the pitching staff where two guys really jump out: Dinelson Lamet and Phil Maton.

Lamet started the year at High-A Lake Elsinore and blasted his way all the way up to Triple-A El Paso. His fastball touches 97 MPH but his biggest improvement came with the slider. Once he started locating it more consistently in the strike zone he was a rapid riser in the Padres system. Given the fact the Padres really have no idea what their starting five will look like Lamet, even though he could benefit from some more seasoning in El Paso, could earn a starting spot at some point in the 2017 season.

Maton is a guy who kind of came out of nowhere. He was drafted in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Louisiana Tech and not even the Padres really knew what they had in him. In 2016 … his first full season of professional baseball … Maton started in Low-A Fort Wayne and ended up in El Paso. In his minor league career Maton has struck out 136 hitters while walking just 16.

A big reason for his success is his fastball, which generates a lot of swings and misses. The reason is it has what so many pitchers crave: late life.

The statistical website FanGraphs has recorded Maton’s heater spinning at 2500 RPM. Not to get too science nerdy on you but that means his old #1 is able to stay on a different plane than the average fastball (MLB average is about 2200 RPM), avoiding the effect of gravity and finishing higher in the strike zone than most other pitchers’ offerings.

Hitters get used to seeing the ball dipping at a certain rate so they have trouble adjusting to the difference in Maton’s delivery, giving him an advantage and a real shot at earning the closer’s job in San Diego.

The full list of non-roster invitees is below. Pitchers and catchers report to the Peoria Sports Complex on Valentine’s Day.

Right-Handed Pitchers (11)
Logan Bawcom
Jon Edwards
Carlos Fisher
Erik Johnson
Jason Jester
Michael Kelly
Dinelson Lamet
Phil Maton
Aroni Nina    
Andre Rienzo
Craig Stammen

Left-Handed Pitchers (2)
Kyle McGrath
Brad Wieck

Catchers (4)
Tony Cruz
Rocky Gale
Stephen McGee
Hector Sanchez

Infielders (7)
Erick Aybar
Dusty Coleman
Jose Pirela
Jamie Romak
Luis Urias
Christian Villanueva
Brett Wallace

Outfielders (4)
Jabari Blash
Nick Buss   
Collin Cowgill
Rafael Ortega

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<![CDATA[Padres Add Exhibition Game in Lake Elsinore]]> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 14:50:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/240*120/The+Diamond+Lake+Elsimore.jpg

The Padres added another exhibition game to their preseason schedule and it’s one where a whole lot of young talent will be on the field.

The Friars will play the Lake Elsinore Storm, their high-A affiliate, at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore on Friday, March 31. It will be their final exhibition game before opening the season the following Monday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

“We are looking forward to visiting The Diamond next month to close out Spring Training,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. “Not only is Lake Elsinore a great place to watch a baseball game, but it also serves as a key level in the development of our young players.”

The Storm have been the Padres’ California League affiliate since 2001. The Padres have played the youngsters four times, the last one coming in 2010.

“We can’t wait to begin our 17th season with the San Diego Padres by welcoming them to The Diamond for this event,” said Storm General Manager Raj Narayanan said. “Not only will it be a fun game to watch between Padres present and future, but it will also be the first chance for fans to check out our new seating in the ballpark.”

In the off-season the Storm reconfigured seating at The Diamond, making ADA improvements and providing easier access for a ballpark that is regarded as one of the best High-A facilities in the nation.

First pitch for the exhibition is set for 6:00 p.m. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. Fans can purchase online via stormbaseball.com, over the phone or in person as early as March 13.

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<![CDATA[A WAY Too Early Look at the Padres Starting 9]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 20:18:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edited-AP_791454076144.gif

As of Friday, we have just 11 days before Padres pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Peoria, AZ.

Last year at this time there were a lot of question marks about the starting lineup. Would Wil Myers be able to learn 1st base and keep his surgically-repaired wrist healthy? Would Austin Hedges take the starting catcher’s job from Derek Norris? What would the starting outfield look like? After the big three of Ross, Shields and Cashner, who would be in the starting rotation?

This year we have a lot fewer questions about the position players but a whole lot more about the pitching staff. So, since I’m all talked out of football right now let’s take a look at what we might be seeing come Opening Day in Padreland.

Here are the positions we know for sure, without question, beyond the shadow of a doubt:

1B – Wil Myers
C – Austin Hedges
3B – Yangervis Solarte
RF – Hunter Renfroe

These guys are etched in stone. Myers is an All-Star, Hedges is arguably the best defensive catching prospect in the game (Norris was traded to Washington to clear space for him), Solarte is the heart of the club and Renfroe showed the kind of power bat and arm at the end of last season that will cement him in right field for a while.

Here are the guys who we have a pretty good idea about:

CF – Manuel Margot/Travis Jankowski
LF – Alex Dickerson/Travis Jankowski

Jankowski figures to be the 4th outfielder with his versatility to play multiple positions. Margot is another defensive wizard with a lot of extra-base hits in his bat and Dickerson showed in spurts last year that the Poway native has legitimate 25-HR power at Petco Park.

Then you have the middle of the infield where a couple of intriguing position battles are going to go down. Here are the players involved there:

2B – Ryan Schimpf, Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg
SS – Your guess is as good as mine

Schimpf was one of the most pleasant surprises in all of baseball last year. The 28-year-old rookie came up and hit 20 home runs in 89 games, earning a serious look in 2017. Asuaje is the prospect, the Pacific Coast League All-Star. Spangenberg won the starting job in Spring Training of 2016 but was lost soon after to a leg injury. If he is healthy he adds competition to the mix.

As for shortstop? Yeah. That’s a different story. Luis Sardinas and Jose Rondon both played there in 2016 and were good enough defensively but neither guy is going to wow you with his bat. Odds are the Opening Day shortstop is not on the roster yet (meaning general manager A.J. Preller could very well swing a trade).

The guys who don’t make it from this list, along with jack-of-all-trades catcher Christian Bethancourt and another backup catcher for when Bethancourt is playing OF, coming out of the bullpen or serving as 1st base coach, will likely be on the bench.

That brings us to the pitching staff, which might as well be decided by a spirited game of Pin The Tail On The Donkey.

About a dozen guys will have a shot at the 5-man rotation and there is no clear-cut favorite for closer so the staff warrants a whole story in itself. And that is how we’re going to handle it. So check back soon for predictions on who will be on the mound for the Friars in 2017.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Add Another San Diego Native]]> Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:50:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/Trevor+Cahill+Cubs.JPG

In their quest for starting pitching the Padres have dipped in to the bullpen of the World Series champions.

Vista native Trevor Cahill agreed to a one year, $1.75 million deal with his hometown team. On Friday he passed his physical to make the deal official. Cahill appeared in 50 games for the Cubs, all but one as a reliever, in 2016.

Cahill was selected in the 2nd round of the MLB Draft by the A’s out of Vista High School in 2006. He was going to head to Dartmouth before pro ball got in the way so he is a smart guy. Cahill reached the big leagues at the age of 21 and was an All-Star a year later, going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA and a 4.0 WAR.

He has not enjoyed that level of success since. Cahill was traded to the Diamondbacks and lost his role in the starting rotation. Arizona traded him to Atlanta, who then flipped him to Chicago. It was on the North Side that Cahill reinvented himself as a full-time reliever.

But, much like Drew Pomeranz last year, Cahill has longed to return to the starting rotation. He will get that chance in Spring Training and is a good candidate to re-claim his past success working with Padres Pitching Coach Darren Balsley, a man who has resuscitated the careers of several pitchers including former San Diego State star Aaron Harang and Jon Garland.

The Padres now have at least the following pitchers vying for the five spots in the rotation:

Trevor Cahill, RHP
Luis Perdomo, RHP
Clayton Richard, LHP
Christian Friedrich, LHP
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP
Paul Clemens, RHP
Jarred Cosart, RHP
Tyrell Jenkins, RHP
Robbie Erlin, LHP
Cesar Vargas, RHP
Dinelson Lamet, RHP (not on 40-man roster)

If he does not win a rotation spot Cahill has proven to be an effective reliever so the Padres will get some use out of him.

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<![CDATA[Trevor Hoffman Misses HOF by 5 Votes]]> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:26:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hoffmanp10.jpg

San Diego sports fans received another punch to the gut Wednesday when Padres great Trevor Hoffman missed induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame by just five votes.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected into the Hall as members of the class of 2017 by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

But in his second year of eligibility for the ballot, Hoffman received 327 votes (74 percent of the votes cast).

Nominees need at least 75 percent of the votes cast to gain entry.

Hoffman racked up 601 saves over 18 seasons with the Padres, Brewers and Marlins. The fact that he came paper-thin close to induction this year, makes him a virtual lock to become a Hall of Famer in 2018.

When a player gets extremely close like this, history says it’s a mere formality until that athlete eventually gains entrance into the Hall.

A recent example would be Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, who finished two votes shy of induction in 2014, only to reach the 75 percent threshold the following year.

Another example came in 2010, when pitcher Bert Blyleven missed election into the Hall of Fame by the sixth slimmest margin, according to MLB HOF officials.

Just like Hoffman, Blyleven fell five votes shy of the Hall that year. Blyleven was inducted the next time around as a member of the class of 2011.

Hoffman tweeted out his thoughts shortly after hearing the news, saying he was "grateful for every vote" and "truly humbled to have come so close."

The Padres organization also released a statement on Hoffman’s near miss.

“We would like to congratulate the Hall of Fame class of 2017 on being elected to the greatest honor in our game. We believe Trevor Hoffman’s name should have been called today, and we all share in the disappointment felt by Padres fans everywhere.

Few players have ever performed the task set in front of them as successfully and as consistently as Trevor did," the Padres statement continued. "On top of that, Trevor has the unanimous respect and love of former teammates, coaches and fans. He is a true Hall of Famer, and we look forward to the day very soon when we will see him enshrined in Cooperstown.”

Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, received 24.3 percent of the vote in his first ballot appearance in 2008. He jumped from 55 percent in 2015 to 69.8 percent last year and was on 88.8 percent of the vote-tracker's ballots this year, set to join Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only members of the Hall representing Montreal.

Raines spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season.

Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time, had increased from 41.7 percent in 2011 to 71.6 percent last year, falling 15 votes short when Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected. Bagwell was tracking at 88 percent this year.

"I just want to get it over with," Bagwell said. "This is the first year I've kind of been keeping track of it and just kind of looking. So I'm excited about it."

Rodriguez was a longtime catcher, notably for the Texas Rangers.

In due time, it should be Trevor’s time.

The Padres organization also released a statement on Hoffman’s near miss.

 “We would like to congratulate the Hall of Fame class of 2017 on being elected to the greatest honor in our game. We believe Trevor Hoffman’s name should have been called today, and we all share in the disappointment felt by Padres fans everywhere. Few players have ever performed the task set in front of them as successfully and as consistently as Trevor did. On top of that, Trevor has the unanimous respect and love of former teammates, coaches and fans. He is a true Hall of Famer, and we look forward to the day very soon when we will see him enshrined in Cooperstown.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Padres Announce 2017 Coaching Staff]]> Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:36:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/Andy+Green+Sunglasses.JPG

The Padres have finalized their 2017 coaching staff. Andy Green is, of course, back for his second season at the helm.

He’ll bring back pitching coach Darren Balsley, hitting coach Alan Zinter, 3rd base coach Glenn Hoffman, bench coach Mark McGwire and bullpen coach Doug Bochtler.

New to the staff are 1st base coach Johnny Washington, Jonathan Mathews as a coach specializing in teaching the outfielders and former Padre Ramon Vazquez as a coach specializing in teaching the infielders

The two constants for the Padres continue to be Balsley and Hoffman. This will be Balsley’s 15th season with the Padres, making him the 2nd-longest-tenured pitching coach in Major League Baseball (Dave Righetti has been with the Giants since 2000). Hoffman has been with the club for 12 years, all as the 3rd base coach.

McGwire, Bochtler and Zinter all joined the Padres staff with Green for the 2016 season.

Washington is a 32-year-old who was the hitting coach for the Padres’ Double-A affiliate in San Antonio last season. Before joining the Padres organization he spent seven years as a coach in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system. This is his first job at the big league level.

The other two guys have an interesting connection: Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa.

Mathews comes over from the Diamondbacks, where he was a minor league hitting coach. He got his first coaching job in pro baseball when the Orioles hired him as their Single-A hitting coach in 2013. Before that he was an assistant coach at Indian Hills, where the also was an Economics teacher (Mathews has a master’s degree in athletic administration from the University of Iowa).

Speaking of Indian Hills C.C.; that is the school Vazquez was drafted out of in 1995 by the Mariners. Vazquez would play nine years in the Major Leagues, including three for the Padres (2002-2004). Last season he was the manager for Single-A Lancaster in the Houston Astros system.

Padres pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training at the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona on February 14.

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<![CDATA[Padres Working to Keep Fan Favorites]]> Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:39:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/myers.PNG

Over the years Padres fans have grown accustomed to one of two things:

Either star players reach a certain point of their careers when they are going to earn a big payday and get traded away instead of being productive in San Diego (Exhibit A: Adrian Gonzalez) …

OR

Players who show some potential are given long-term deals far too soon and don’t live up to them (Exhibit B: Jedd Gyorko).

It looks like the Padres are getting one right with Wil Myers.

The 26-year-old All-Star 1st baseman is on the brink of signing a long-term contract extension to stay in San Diego (I guess we could say NOT relocate). The talks are reportedly in the 6-year, $80 million range, which is a good deal for both sides given the current state of baseball’s economic climate.

“The biggest thing for both ends is openness,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller on Friday night. “There’s a want for Wil to be here. There’s a want for him to be a guy that’s with the Padres through the heart of his career. Still nothing finalized but trying to work towards something here in the next week.”

Myers had the best offensive season for a right-handed hitting Padre in the Petco Park era, clubbing 28 home runs with 94 RBI, 28 doubles and stealing 28 bags. Myers was the cleanup hitter for the National League in the All-Star game and became a fan favorite.

Speaking of guys Padres fans love, Yangervis Solarte isn’t going anywhere.

The Padres signed the 29-year old infielder to a two-year deal with two club options. Last season Solarte hit .286 with 15 home runs, 71 RBI and 55 runs scored. In September he went on a career-best 14-game hit streak.

Solarte was also awarded the Tony Conigiliaro Award that goes to the Major Leaguer who overcomes adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage. In September the Venezuela native lost his wife Yuliette to cancer.

Solarte came to the Padres from the Yankees in a 2014 trade that sent Chase Headley to the Bronx.

On Friday the Padres also avoided salary arbitration with four players. Pitchers Carter Capps, Christian Friedrich, Brad Hand and Brandon Maurer all agreed to one-year contracts.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2016: The Year in San Diego Sports]]> Sat, 31 Dec 2016 10:49:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/jj+3.JPG

So I was asked to do what we in the media refer to as a “year-ender.” It’s a look back at the last 12 months in the San Diego sporting landscape. But the request was to do it with a bit of optimism. After hearing that caveat my first thought was “Can I just donate a kidney? That would be easier.”

I mean let’s face it, 2016 was not exactly the best year for San Diego sports. We almost lost our football team only to find out we’re probably going to lose our football team … our baseball team traded away pretty much every familiar face … our basketball teams missed the NCAA Tournament … and arguably the most recognizable athlete  from our town got in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

So let’s take a walk down amnesia lane, month by month, to see why 2017 can really only be an improvement.

JANUARY

The year started with the Chargers completing their 4-12 season in a 27-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Then they gave embattled head coach Mike McCoy a contract extension. Then they went to Houston expecting to have their Carson stadium plan approved so they could leave San Diego and head to Los Angeles. Dean Spanos went to Houston for the decision and had his teeth kicked in by NFL owners, who voted 30-2 to let Stan Kroenke move the Rams to Inglewood instead.

Of course all that did was start the next act in what was a comedy of errors that nobody found at all funny.

The Padres made a couple of nice additions, adding infielder Adam Rosales and reliever Ryan Buchter. But they made a not-so-nice addition with shortstop Alexei Ramirez. But, the All-Star game at Petco Park was just seven months away!

We did get to see one of the most interesting Farmers Insurance Opens of all time. After a couple of picturesque days of golf the weather over Torrey Pines was outright nasty. One of the very few players to finish his round on Sunday was Brandt Snedeker. By the time the day was over he was the clubhouse leader so he had to stick around for Monday to see if he had done enough to get in to a playoff. That takes us to …

FEBRUARY

On February 1, Snedeker warmed up on the driving range, did not hit a shot, and won the tournament when nobody else could go get him.

The Padres started Spring Training with hopes of getting back to respectability. Signing closer Fernando Rodney was a nice addition. In fact he was soon to be on his way to the All-Star Game at Petco Park. Of course it would be in another uniform but THAT’S HOW 2016 WENT FOR US!

The Chargers made waves in February when they revealed they would be putting together a proposal to build a new stadium/convention center annex in Downtown San Diego. The plan was assembled without input from any of the local political structure, which immediately organized to start opposing it.

On the penultimate day of the month, however, we had some good news. Jimmie Johnson won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta, the first victory in what would become a season for the ages for the El Cajon native.

MARCH

The month started with the Padres playing their annual Charity Game against the Mariners in Peoria. San Diego lost 7-0. Little did we know this would be a precursor of how the entire season would go. They also traded Ramona High School alum Nick Vincent to the Mariners.

The Aztecs basketball team lost in the finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament to Fresno State, missing out on a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. They ended up in the NIT, where they lost in the semi-finals to George Washington.

The Chargers released the details of their $1.8 billion stadium initiative, asking for $1.15 billion dollars in public money in the form of a hotel tax increase. With a republican Mayor. In California, one of the most tax-averse states in the union.

In the Major Arena Soccer League, the Sockers lost to the Sonora Suns in the Pacific Division Final. After winning four straight league championships the Sockers ran their title-less skid to three straight seasons.

But, U.C. San Diego’s men’s basketball team made it to the 3rd round of the NCAA Division II West Region Playoffs, giving us something to keep March from completely stinking.

APRIL

At the Masters Phil Mickelson, the most successful and recognizable golfer from our town, missed the cut at the Masters, a tournament he has won three times, after imploding with a 79 on Friday.

The Padres opened the 2016 regular season with a series against the Dodgers at Petco Park. Los Angeles won the opener 15-0, the only game San Diego ace Tyson Ross would pitch all season (shoulder and leg injuries ended his year after that loss) then were shut out 3-0 and 7-0.

Thank goodness for the Gulls! In their inaugural American Hockey League season San Diego’s professional hockey team went to the playoffs, knocking off Texas in the opening round before falling to Ontario in the Pacific Division Finals. The Gulls were easily one of the most fun stories in San Diego sports in 2016

The Chargers held a signature drive to try and get people to support their citizens’ initiative for a Downtown stadium/convention center. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to say we can have a Super Bowl if we build a new facility.

At the end of the month the Chargers had a really good NFL Draft. They took Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry and Jatavis Brown, all of whom turned in to impact players as rookies.

MAY

The Chargers had their rookie mini-camps and people raved about Bosa. Little did they know that trouble was brewing on that front.

Mickelson was caught in an insider trading scandal and ordered by the SEC to repay nearly $1 million. He allegedly received a stock tip from a notorious gambler and bought several shares, partially to repay a gambling debt.

But former SDSU star Kawhi Leonard gave us a positive when he was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

So did Chula Vista native Paul Arriola, who played his first game as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team and scored a goal in a friendly against Puerto Rico. Arriola also set up Bobby Wood for a goal in a 3-1 United States victory. He would score again in a World Cup qualifier in September against Trinidad & Tobago.

This month U.C. San Diego students voted to increase athletics fees and move the school from Division II up to Division I. In December the faculty would also vote in favor of making the move. By the end of the year the Tritons were only waiting on an invitation to join the Big West Conference to make the move official.

JUNE

This is the month that things really started going crazy. In the first week the Padres traded James Shields to the White Sox for Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr., the first sign that the youth movement was fully on. By the end of the month they had also traded Rodney to the Marlins for Chris Paddack. In between they found a massive positive when they stumbled upon Ryan Schimpf. The elderly rookie (he’s 28 years old) 2nd baseman ended up third on the team with 20 home runs in just 276 at-bats.

Things started unraveling for the Chargers in June. They submitted their signatures on the citizens’ initiative with no problem but found out their plan would need two-thirds approval from voters, not the simple majority they had expected. That put the Bolts behind the proverbial 8-ball and they decided to scale back the campaign for the measure knowing it would be a lost cause. NO tax increase of any kind in California will garner 66% approval.

Also in June first round pick Joey Bosa decided he was not going to practice until his contract situation was sorted out. That set off another round of the team horribly botching a contract negotiation, something fans in San Diego have become all too familiar with.

Back to baseball for a moment: the Padres selected Stanford right-hander Cal Quantrill with the 8th overall pick in the MLB Draft. He signed 11 days later. The Friars also selected one Quinn Hoffman in the 36th round. However, Trevor’s son decided going to play at Harvard was a better bet at this point in his career. It’s a cliché but he made the smart move. You don’t turn down an Ivy League education for the bus leagues!

And in the first round of that draft La Costa Canyon outfielder Mickey Moniak was selected first overall by the Phillies. He joins San Diego products Stephen Strasburg, Adrian Gonzalez, Brady Aiken, Matt Bush and Bryce Harper (who played for the San Diego Show and San Diego Stars travel ball teams) as the first player taken in the Draft.

JULY

The Padres went temporarily insane in July. They spent a whole lot of cash on international free agents. Exact numbers for Venezuelan players are not made public because of the potential for danger to the players’ families but by the time the year was over the Friars had committed what is believed to be more than $80 million to players from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia and Taiwan, most of them still teenagers.

But the All-Star Game at Petco Park was a smashing success. Wil Myers, who would have one of the greatest offensive seasons in San Diego Padres history with 28 home runs, 28 doubles and 28 stolen bases, participated in the Home Run Derby and was hitting cleanup as the National League’s Designated Hitter. Drew Pomeranz threw a scoreless inning. USD product Kris Bryant hit a first inning home run. But the American League won the game 4-2. Multiple writers and baseball executives raved about San Diego as a host city and openly campaigned to have the Midsummer Classic return.

Not long after that game the Padres traded Pomeranz to the Red Sox for super-prospect Anderson Espinoza. By the time the month was over the Friars had also dealt Melvin Upton Jr., Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, Tayron Guerrero and Matt Kemp for a bunch of prospects, quick fixes in the rotation, or cash.

The Chargers started training camp (without Joey Bosa) and in the first week lost wide receiver Stevie Johnson to a season-ending knee injury. That would once again become a theme for the Chargers in 2016.

The Albion Pros and North County Battalion both reached the playoffs of the National Premiere Soccer League in their inaugural seasons, proving again San Diego is one of the best soccer markets in the nation.

AUGUST

Much like the entirety of the United States Olympic team, Olympians from San Diego had a fantastic showing at the 2016 Rio Games. No fewer than 15 athletes who either live or grew up in America’s Finest City won a medal. Bonus points since none of them made up a story about being mugged.
The Padres took a misstep this month when they had to take Colin Rea back from the Marlins after Miami realized he had a serious elbow issue. This, along with the Pomeranz trade, sparked an investigation that revealed the team had been keeping two sets of medical records, a big-time NO-NO. General Manager A.J. Preller ended up suspended for a month and eventually, although it’s not been proven, there has been rampant speculation that the scandal contributed to former C.E.O Mike Dee leaving the organization.

The Chargers played their preseason games, starting with a tilt against the Titans in Nashville where running back Melvin Gordon found the end zone for the first time on an NFL field. That turned out to be an indicator that Gordon was in for a Pro Bowl-caliber year.

SEPTEMBER

Joey Bosa ended his holdout and signed a 4-year contract but tweaked a hamstring and missed the first four games of the season. They could have used him.

The Chargers opened the season with a game in Kansas City and things could not have been going better. They jumped out to a 21-3 lead and looked ready to demolish their division rivals until wide receiver Keenan Allen tore his ACL. The team was not the same after that, blowing the first of what would be many double-digit leads in the 4th quarter of games and losing 33-27 in overtime. The Bolts would beat the Jags then lose to the Colts on the road.

The Aztecs football team opened the season with three straight wins and found themselves ranked in the Top-25.

The Padres finished the regular season with a whimper, getting swept by the Diamondbacks in the season’s final series (which actually stretched in to October). By losing three straight they “earned” the third overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. But the Friar Faithful had a reason to get excited.

The El Paso Chihuahuas won the Pacific Coast League championship behind the most potent offense in the minor leagues. Outfielder Hunter Renfroe was named MVP of the PCL while infielder Carlos Asuaje earned Newcomer of the Year. They were both called up to the big club, along with outfielder Manuel Margot and catcher Austin Hedges, at the end of September. All of them made a contribution but it was Renfroe’s prodigious power that had people buzzing. He became the first person ever to hit a home run on the very top of the Western Metal Supply building in left field.

OCTOBER

The Aztecs opened the month with a loss on the road against South Alabama, knocking them back out of the Top-25. They did win the next four when Mountain West Conference play started and running back Donnel Pumphrey became a national topic of conversation with his quest to become a Heisman Trophy candidate.

San Diego State also named John David Wicker its new Director of Athletics in October. In August Jim Sterk had left the school for the same position at Missouri.

The Chargers opened the month by losing another monster 4th quarter lead, this time handing Drew Brees and the Saints a pair of 4th quarter fumbles in a 35-34 New Orleans win. The next week in Oakland Bosa finally showed up and had a pair of sacks but another rookie, punter Drew Kaser, botched a punt and dropped a snap on what would have been a game-tying field goal try in a 34-31 loss to the Raiders. Back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Falcons showed the Bolts have the ability to beat anybody … but another loss in Denver kept the Bolts from being able to reach the .500 mark.

The University of San Diego Toreros made us take notice of their football team in October. During the month Dale Lindsey’s team went 5-0 and outscored its opponents 210-33 in the process.

But the biggest sports story of the entire year had a San Diego influence. The Chicago Cubs FINALLY won the World Series with USD star Bryant at 3rd base, former Padre Anthony Rizzo at 1st base, and a front office filled with former Padres executives like Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the architects of the roster that broke the Curse of the Billy Goat.

NOVEMBER

In a year full on nonsense, thank goodness for Jimmie Johnson. The Granite Hills High School alum won the final NASCAR race of the season at Homestead Miami Speedway to clinch his record-tying 7th series championship. Johnson now has as many points titles as Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, making him arguably the greatest driver in NASCAR history.

The Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive with wins over the Titans and Texans but hurt them with a loss to the Dolphins, a game where Philip Rivers threw four interceptions in the 4th quarter of a 31-24 Miami win.

The Aztecs saw their Mountain West Conference winning streak come to an end with a 34-33 loss at Wyoming.

But, the Toreros won the Pioneer League and then won their first FCS playoff game, beating Cal Poly SLO on the road 35-21.

MLB postseason awards were handed out and Bryant was named the National League MVP while Rancho Buena Vista High School alum and former Padres bench coach Dave Roberts won the National League Manager of the Year award for leading the Dodgers to another N.L. West division title.

Oh, there was also that little vote on Measure C. The Chargers convadium initiative only garnered 43% of the vote. Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos then started holding every Bolts fan hostage when he said he would not make a decision on moving to Los Angeles or not until after the season ends.

DECEMBER

The speculation on whether or not the Chargers will stay in San Diego hit a fever pitch this month. Spanos was quoted as saying he was leaning towards moving the team to L.A. but still had not made a final decision. The team even reached a lease agreement on 100,000 square feet of office space in Costa Mesa that it can possibly use to build offices and a nearby practice facility.

In the meantime the team launched itself on a 4-game losing skid, including a Christmas Eve loss on the road to the 0-14 Cleveland Browns. Through all of this head coach Mike McCoy somehow kept his job.

The Aztecs beat Wyoming in Laramie to win the MWC Championship Game, its second straight conference title, then went to Sin City and whipped Houston 34-10 in the Las Vegas Bowl. In the process Pumphrey finished his career and college football’s all-time leading rusher in the eyes of the NCAA, an amazing accomplishment for a kid who is 5-foot-9 and weighs 180 pounds.

The Toreros had their season come to an end with a 45-7 loss in the FCS playoffs at North Dakota State, who had won five consecutive national championships. USD also named Bill McGillis the Director of Athletics after Ky Snyder was promoted within the University.

In women's basketball La Jolla Country Day alum Kelsey Plum broke the all-Time Pac-12 Conference scoring record. The Washington Husky star did it in style, too, dropping 44 points on Boise State that game.

Also, to Padres were not done making moves, signing left-hander Clayton Richard and right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to free agent contracts and traded catcher Derek Norris to the Washington Nationals for right-hander Pedro Avila.

In high school football both Madison High School and Cathedral Catholic High School won California State Championships.

IN CONCLUSION

That’s the big stuff and a little bit of the small stuff from this year in San Diego Sports. I know you all have things I missed so please, let me know on Twitter (@DerekNBCSD) if I did or what you think were the high and low points of the 2016 year in San Diego sports.

One thing I sincerely hope for in 2017 is trying to find a positive spin is not nearly as difficult as this year was.

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<![CDATA[Padres Looking to Get ... Older?]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:15:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Manny+Margot+Batting+Cage.JPG

The Padres are on a youth movement. That is not news.

In case you needed another reminder of that, last Friday the Friars traded starting catcher Derek Norris to the Nationals in exchange for another teenage pitcher prospect. A few days before that veteran outfielder Jon Jay left for a free agent deal with the World Series champion Cubs.

Jay was regarded as one of the best clubhouse guys in baseball, a mentor to San Diego’s stable or outfield prospects. Norris was a hard-nosed clubhouse presence who brought toughness to a position that absolutely needs it. The moves suggest the 2017 Friars will be one of the most inexperienced yet intriguing teams in baseball.

“I think Andy (Manager Andy Green) and the staff understand it’s going to be a younger club,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. “It’s going to be a club that should be fun to watch. There’s going to be some development for our coaching staff at the big league level. We’ll keep looking for some of the veteran guys that can come in and set a tone for these guys, as well.”

That is interesting. Before you thinking it’s going to be a bunch of 20-somethings running around learning on the job next season I should tell you that Preller sees the importance in older guys on the roster and will be looking to add a veteran presence.

“With Jon and Derek leaving I think there’s definitely a void there. I think, on the free agent market we’ll keep looking at that in the next couple of weeks to see if there are some guys to come in and kind of help fill that void or just work with the young kids to make sure they know how to play winning baseball and what they need to do to be quality Padres.”

The Padres also non-tendered Tyson Ross, a bit of a surprising move since he was their Opening Day starter in 2016. That first start was the only one he made, though, and his recovery from thoracic outlet surgery is expected to extend in to Spring Training at the least.

The Friars also said good-bye to Alexi Amarista, Jon Edwards, Erik Johnson, Jose Pirela and Hector Sanchez but Preller did not rule out bringing any of them back on minor league contracts and allowing them a chance to earn a spot during Cactus League play.

That leaves seven spots on the 40-man roster. However, any veterans that come in also need to understand that they are not just going to be handed a starting spot. The Padres have a bevy of youngsters they want to make sure get MLB playing time.

“The centerfield spot we’ve got Travis Jankowski and Manny Margot,” said Preller. “We think they’re two Big League centerfielders so we’ll let those guys compete. At the catching spot we’ve got Austin Hedges, so if you’re going to let some veteran players move along you want to make sure you have some other guys coming along the pipeline to fill their spots. We feel good about the guys we have at those spots.”

The Padres are going to add some guys with decent Big League resumes. The big question is how much will they be asked to play … and how much will they be asked to teach?

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<![CDATA[Padres Release 2017 Spring Training Schedule]]> Mon, 21 Nov 2016 12:02:28 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Andy+Green+Dugout.JPG

The Padres have released their 2017 Spring Training schedule. Due to the return of the World Baseball Classic (which will again hold games at Petco Park in March) things will be just a little bit different this time around.

Pitchers and catchers report on Valentine’s Day and the first workout is set for February 15 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona. Position players join the group on the 17th and the first full-squad workout will be on Saturday, February 18.

The first of its 34 game Cactus League schedule will be on February 25 against the Seattle Mariners in their annual charity game. As teams get ready for the WBC, the Padres will host the Mexican National Team for three practices from March 6-8 and play a game at Peoria Stadium on Tuesday, March 7.

I know that’s a lot of dates so just check out the full month’s schedule:

Spring Training ends with one final game against the Diamondbacks on March 30. The regular season starts four days later when the Padres start a three-game set against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.


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<![CDATA[Padres Roster Gets Even Younger]]> Fri, 18 Nov 2016 19:31:46 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/Andy+Green+Sunglasses.JPG

Over the last few months we’ve been hearing a lot about the Padres embarking on a youth movement. Now we’re getting a good look at just how much they’re committing to the plan.

On Friday the Friars filled out their 40-man roster and the age range of the players on it is not exactly vast. The Padres selected the contracts of outfielder Franchy Cordero, infielder Javier Guerra and right-handed pitchers Walker Lockett and Jose Ruiz.

Guys they lost include right-handed pitcher Leonel Campos, who was claimed off outright waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays; infielder Brett Wallace, who was outrighted to Triple-A El Paso and elected free agency; and outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who was designated for assignment.

Now that Wallace is gone the eldest San Diego Padre is left-handed pitcher Ryan Buchter, who is just 29 years old. The youngest is shortstop Javier Guerra, who just turned 21 at the end of September.

The Padres 40-man roster has 24 guys that were born in the 1990’s. Yes that’s right more than half of the San Diego roster was not alive when Pearl Jam was formed. I know … I feel old, too.

But perhaps this is a good thing. The Padres have finally fully committed to the rebuild. No more of this trying to fight on two fronts (winning at the MLB level while still building the minor league system). That can work if you have the kind of cash the Cubs or Yankees or Red Sox bring in. But it’s simply not viable in a market the size of San Diego.

Of course this does not include any free agent signings or trades the Padres might be making in the coming months. You would think the team would almost have to, just out of sheer happenstance, end up with at least one player in his 30’s this season (and they are talking to LHP Derek Holland, who is a dinosaur at the age of 30).

But for now the youth have inherited the Padres, and with a skipper in charge who is not yet 40 (Andy Green is 39 until July) we'll see if they're all able to grow up together.

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<![CDATA[Padres Eye Last Place Finish]]> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 22:45:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/Andy+Green+in+Arizona.JPG

Let's make this as quick and painless as we can.

The Padres lost to the Diamondbacks 9-5 on Saturday night in Arizona. Clayton Richard made his first bad start since re-joining San Diego's starting rotation, allowing five runs in the first inning.

The loss drops the Padres in to a tie for 4th place in the National League West. The Friars came in to the game needing only to avoid a sweep to avoid finishing the season at the very bottom of the standings.

A lot of people think losing to Arizona and having them leapfrog the Padres is a good thing because it gives the Friars a better drafting position. That's a conversation for a different day. All I know is the guys in the clubhouse would like to avoid looking up at everybody in the division, a place the franchise has not finished in since 2011.

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<![CDATA[Schimpf's Big Blast Not Enough for Padres]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 22:04:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Ryan+Schimpf+HR+in+AZ.JPG

I suppose we can call it the Battle for the Basement.

The Padres started their final series of the year against the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Friday night. If the Friars can win just one of their last three games they will guarantee they do not finish in last place in the National League West. They will have two more chances to do that.

San Diego lost 5-3 at Chase Field. Padres starter Edwin Jackson was tagged for a pair of home runs, one by Paul Goldschmidt and another by Chris Owings, in his 6.0 innings of work. The positive for the Padres came off the bat of 2nd baseman Ryan Schimpf.

The rookie smashed his 20th home run of the year, a 469-foot bomb off Braden Shipley in the 4th inning. Schimpf is only the third Padres rookie to hit 20 homers. Jedd Gyorko had 23 in 2013 and Nate Colbert ripped 24 in 1969.

In his first big league call-up Schimpf has gone deep every 13.6 at-bats. If he was able to get enough at-bats to qualify (and he kept up that pace) that would be enough to lead the National League.

San Diego’s next shot at avoiding the cellar comes on Saturday when Clayton Richard takes the mound against Archie Bradley.

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<![CDATA[Petco Park Honors Hall of Fame Broadcaster]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 06:24:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Dick-Enberg.jpg

The lights have been turned off at Petco Park until next season. The Padres were unable to sweep the Dodgers, losing 9-4 in this evening’s game. However they still walked away on top winning two out of the three game series to end their 2016 season at home.

While many of the players who were out there this evening will be returning to Petco Park come next April one man who some may consider part of the team, hung up his head set and put away his play book for the final time at Petco Park.

Dick Enberg, a hall of fame broadcaster, primary play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres, or as many fans may recall, the voice behind the famous "Oh My."

Enberg called his final game in a place where he has grown all too familiar with over the past seven years, Petco Park.

Though he may be setting aside the play book, he has made a permanent mark at Petco Park. This evening prior to the game Enberg was honored with the “Dick Enberg Broadcast Booth”, as well as a standing ovation from both Padres and Dodgers fans.

The impact Enberg has made on baseball fans and sports fans for that matter could be seen though the faces of the players, fans in the crowd, and fellow announcers. Needless to say the legendary announcer will always be able to call Petco Park a home away from home



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Bosa Back in Pads]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 17:28:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ap-joey-bosa.jpg

On Wednesday, for the first time since January, when he was ejected from the Fiesta Bowl in the first quarter for a targeting call, Joey Bosa played football with pads on.

The 3rd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft had a long contract dispute with the Chargers, then suffered a hamstring injury his first week back, and had not been able to put on all his gear until this week. He did not take part in the full team practice but was able to go through individual drills with running and conditioning and said his hamstring “felt really good.”

Bosa did not want to discuss his injury, saying multiple times he is simply “day-by-day.” He did open up a bit about having to watch his teammates play games that matter while he was on the sidelines, a new experience for someone who has been a starter for basically his entire football life.

“Strange,” said Bosa of being a spectator. “Nothing I’ve ever really experienced before. Obviously the first one [loss in Kansas City], knowing that I could have been in there and helped the team win. That was really tough. But also watching the team win the last game was a cool moment. It was a really fun Sunday.”

There is an outside chance Bosa will be suiting up at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday when the Chargers play the Colts.



Photo Credit: The Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Get A Look at the Future]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:21:06 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/Manny+Margot.JPG

The future of the Padres has arrived in San Diego. Well, part of it, at least.

Fresh off their Pacific Coast League title and with the El Paso Chihuahuas, some of San Diego’s top prospects have been recalled to the big league club. Among them are names Friars fans have been waiting a long time to hear.

Outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot, catcher Austin Hedges, infielder Carlos Asuaje, and pitchers Jose Torres and Buddy Baumann were all recalled from AAA. All of the position players are ranked in the Top-20 of the team’s best prospects.

Manager Andy Green says none of them are in the starting lineup for Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks at Petco Park.

The arrival of these players is, to many Padres faithful, long overdue. Renfroe, Margot and Asuaje had career years in the PCL and Hedges proved a year ago he is more than capable of handling himself and a Major League pitching staff behind the plate. The organization wanted to get the youngsters post-season experience, even if it was at Triple-A, because they see it as a valuable learning tool for their development.

Now that they’re all up, expect to see Manager Andy Green start to see what he has by sprinkling them in to the lineup through the rest of the season. The 2016 season might be lost but if some of these guys come up and look like future stars, we might be able to end it with a positive note going forward.

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<![CDATA[Padres Salute Yuliett Solarte Before Victory]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 06:30:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PadresYulietteGettyImages-608593730.jpg

A jersey hung by a hanger in the Padres home dugout Monday evening as the team began its final homestand of the 2016 season.

The letters on the back of the uniform read “Yuliett” – the name of Yangervis Solarte’s wife who lost her battle with cancer over the weekend at the age of 31.

The Padres showed their support for their teammate and his family Monday with that gesture as well as a moment of silence before playing their series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks. They then proceeded to finish the night with a 3-2 victory.

Wil Myers belted his 26th home run of the season. His solo shot in the bottom of the 4th inning opened the scoring to the delight of the home crowd.

Myers now has 26 homers and 25 steals – an impressive accomplishment during his All-Star campaign – even though his batting average has slipped to .260 on the year.

Later that same inning, Alexi Amarista provided a 2-run single to help the Friars build a 3-0 lead they would never relinquish.

Clayton Richard pitched into the 7th inning and only allowed two earned runs to secure the victory on the mound.

Brandon Maurer also earned his 11th save by pitching a scoreless 9th inning.

Arizona and San Diego are now both tied for 4th place in the division as both try to avoid finishing in the NL West basement.

That battle resumes Tuesday when Paul Clemens opposes Archie Bradley at 7:10 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Heartbreaking Loss for the Padres]]> Sat, 17 Sep 2016 21:01:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Yangervis+Solarte.JPG

The Padres family suffered a terrible loss on Saturday and it had nothing to do with baseball.

San Diego 3rd baseman Yangervis Solarte’s wife Juliet passed away after a battle with cancer. Yangervis took a leave from the team to be with her and take care of their three daughters, one of them less than one year old.

Yangervis Solarte has become a favorite of Padres fans for the way he plays the game, always with passion and effort. It is truly a sad, sad day for all of Padres Nation.

After you hear news like that it’s hard to go out and play a baseball game. San Diego lost to the Rockies 8-0 at Coors Field. Colorado starter Jon Gray went the distance, striking out 16 Padres hitters along the way. The Friars only had four hits, all of them singles, and starter Edwin Jackson was knocked out in the 5th inning after giving up eight runs on 10 hits.

But in the grand scheme of things, the lopsided loss means nothing. Thoughts and prayers from the entire NBC 7 SportsWrap team go out to Yangervis Solarte and his family.

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<![CDATA[Dickerson's Blast Not Enough for Padres]]> Fri, 09 Sep 2016 22:41:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*122/GettyImages-601353426.jpg

On Thursday night the Padres scored 14 runs against the Rockies. On Friday night the Padres scored one run against the Rockies.

#ThatsBaseball (which seems to be a recurring theme in writing about the 2016 Padres)

Just one night after their offensive gluttony the Friars could not solve Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood in a 4-1 loss. San Diego scored its lone run in the 2nd inning on a 425-foot missile off the bat of Poway native Alex Dickerson.

His homer put the Padres on top 1-0 but the lead was short-lived. In the top of the 3rd inning Luis Perdomo gave up a 2-run homer to Charlie Blackmon that turned out to be the game-winner. Perdomo certainly was not bad, allowing four runs in 6.2 innings, but he's saddled with the loss.

Same two teams on Saturday with Christian Friedrich on the mound against Jon Gray.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grandal Torments His Former Team]]> Sun, 04 Sep 2016 15:47:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-545744010.jpg

San Diego baseball fans have got to be sick and tired of seeing former Friars fry their old team.

Yasmani Grandal, part of the package the Padres sent to Los Angeles for the since-departed Matt Kemp, hit a home run for the second straight game against the Pads to help the Dodgers to a 7-4 win on Sunday at Chavez Ravine.

Grandal has hit 23 home runs this year and six of them have come against the Padres, far and away the most against any other opponent. Grandal has done almost as much damage to the Friars as Jedd Gyorko (seven games, six home runs) did with the Cardinals.

What makes it hurt a little more is Grandal wasn’t even scheduled to play on Sunday. He started on the bench, taking a day off, but entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 5th inning. He immediately singled home Yasiel Puig to snap a 4-4 tie and put the Dodgers on top.

Two innings later he hit a 2-run home run to provide a little more breathing room. Grandal’s shot came off Padres lefty Ryan Buchter and was almost a long out. Alex Dickerson tracked the drive to the left field wall and nearly pulled it back in the yard but couldn’t hang on to the ball.

Grandal’s offense gave Dodgers youngster Jose De Leon a win in his MLB debut. The #2 prospect in L.A.’s system gave up four runs on six hits in 6.0 innings. He struck out nine Padres hitters but could not decipher Yangervis Solarte.

The Padres 3rd baseman had three hits, including his 15th home run of the year, and drove in three runs but the rest of the lineup could only manage five singles.

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who returned to the big leagues on Friday after being demoted to Triple-A for the month of August, hit a 3-run home run off Padres starter Christian Friedrich in the 3rd inning. Friedrich allowed four runs on six hits in 4.1 innings and did not factor in the decision.

The Padres finished their 9-game road trip with a 3-6 record that includes a sweep at the hands of the Braves, the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball. They open a 3-game series back home against the Red Sox with a Labor Day afternoon matchup. Edwin Jackson takes the mound at 1:40 against former Padre Drew Pomeranz, who returns to Petco Park for the first time since throwing a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game as a member of the Padres.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Offense Stifled in L.A.]]> Sat, 03 Sep 2016 20:12:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/164*120/GettyImages-598993120.jpg

Luis Perdomo’s sinker lost a bit of its sink and whatever Rich Hill was throwing was missing a lot of Padres bats. That is not a good combination for the Friars.

San Diego didn’t get its first hit until the 6th inning and by that time the Dodgers had a lead that was too big to overcome, rolling to a 5-1 win.

Perdomo was coming off his first career complete game win and once again was throwing a lot of strikes. Unlike his last outing in Miami, however, this time he found a bit too much of the plate. The Dodgers scored four times in the 4th inning, three of them on a home run by L.A. catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Perdomo allowed one more run on a solo homer by Josh Reddick in the 6th inning. He finished with an interesting stat line, going 6.0 innings with nine hits, five runs, five strikeouts and no walks … and only threw 67 pitches. By today’s baseball standards that is a staggering display of pitch efficiency.

He threw 22 fewer pitches than Hill did in the same number of innings and Hill only allowed one hit, a single by Alexei Ramirez with two outs in the 6th. San Diego scored its only run in the 8th inning when Wil Myers drove in Luis Sardinas with a single.

The Padres can still win the series from the 1st place Dodgers with a win on Sunday when Christian Friedrich faces Jose De Leon.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Take Series Opener in L.A.]]> Fri, 02 Sep 2016 22:00:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/GettyImages-598760594.jpg

In the middle of the week the Padres went to Atlanta and got swept by the Braves, the team with the worst record in baseball. So of course they went in to Los Angeles and took the series opener against the Dodgers, the team in first place in the National League West.

#ThatsBaseball

San Diego's pitching staff gave up 13 hits but only two runs in a 4-2 win on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Clayton Richard went the first 5.0 innings, allowing nine hits but just one run on a Joc Pederson RBI single in the fourth inning.

Richard was in line for the win because in the top of the 6th Padres catcher Derek Norris, who has been in an awful slump, ripped a 2-run double off wall in left field. Yangervis Solarte and Alex Dickerson scored to put the Friars on top 2-1. The two RBI for Norris matched his total for the entire month of August.

Los Angeles tied the game in the bottom half when Pederson hit a solo home run off Brandon Morrow. After that the Padres bullpen went in to lockdown mode. Brad Hand tossed 1.2 innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts. He was followed by perfect innings by Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer. Hand ended up getting the win because of a big blast from his 3rd baseman.

Solarte led off the 8th inning with a solo bomb, his 14th of the season. Brett Wallace added an RBI single to bring in the final run of the night.

San Diego can win the series on Saturday when Luis Perdomo, coming off his first career complete game, takes the mound against Rich Hill.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres, Storm Renew Partnership]]> Fri, 02 Sep 2016 17:45:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*124/CalLeague75Logo2016.jpg

It’s worked for 16 years, might as well keep it going.

On Friday the Padres announced they’re renewing their Player Development Contract with the Lake Elsinore Storm, agreeing to a two-year deal that will last through the 2018 season. Lake Elsinore has been San Diego’s Advanced-A affiliate since 2001.

“Continuing our relationship with Lake Elsinore was a top priority for myself and my staff,” said Padres Executive Vice President/General Manager A.J. Preller. “Having our High-A affiliate so close to San Diego allows players unparalleled exposure, not only to our front office and player development staff but also to Padres fans who have the opportunity to visit our prospects at The Diamond.”

Storm games have become a favorite destination for Padres fans eager to get a look at the future of the franchise, and more often than not they have a better chance to see a win at The Diamond than they do at Petco Park. The Storm have made the playoffs in 12 of the last 15 seasons, including a stretch of eight-consecutive postseason appearances from 2005 to 2012.

The team has won two California League championships, first in 2001 (co-champions) and again in 2011. Lake Elsinore has made five trips to the championship series in that span.

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<![CDATA[Padres Prospect Earns MVP Award]]> Thu, 01 Sep 2016 16:16:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/Hunter+Renfroe+at+Futures+Game+2016.jpg

During the 2016 MLB Futures Game at Petco Park, Padres prospect Hunter Renfroe said he wasn't sure how much more he had to prove playing in the Pacific Coast League. He was leading the PCL in home runs and RBI at the time and was threatening to make a run at the triple crown.

Padres fans have debated for a while now whether or not the slugging outfielder should be in the Major Leagues by now. On Thursday those thinking he should already be patrolling right field in the East Village in stead of El Paso got a little more fuel for their argument.

Renfroe was named the Pacific Coast League's Most Valuable Player. The last Padres prospect to win that award was catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. back in 1989. In 128 games Renfroe leads all of Triple-A baseball with 68 extra-base hits and 290 total bases. He's second in Triple-A with 29 home runs and 104 RBI.

A first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, Renfroe is having easily the best year of his professional career with the Chihuahuas. But, even though the Padres can now expand their roster to 40 players, his arrival with the big league club is still on hold.

El Paso is on the brink of a playoff berth and the Padres have said they want their top prospects (Renfroe, OF Manuel Margo, IF Carlos Asuaje and C Austin Hedges) to stay there and get post-season experience.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rookies Lead Padres to Series Win]]> Sun, 21 Aug 2016 16:14:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/182*120/GettyImages-593254776.jpg

When the Padres made all those moves running up to the trade deadline and said they were going with a youth movement, they were not kidding. And you know what? It’s actually been really fun to watch.

The Friars started five rookies again on Sunday and the kids went bonkers in a 9-1 win over the Diamondbacks at Petco Park. How about this for some symmetry: the five rookies combined for five RBI and five runs scored.

Travis Jankowski started the scoring with a 2-run home run in the third inning, his second homer of the year. The rookie centerfielder has reached base safely in 20 straight games. The big fly gave fellow rookie Luis Perdomo a lead to work with and the 23-year-old right-hander just picked apart the Arizona lineup.

Perdomo made by far the best start of his career, going 7.0 innings, striking out (you guessed it) five without a walk. The five hits he allowed were all singles and the only run he allowed was unearned. Interestingly, it was Perdomo who made the error that led to the run so the last two nights the Diamondbacks scored a total of three runs, all of them unearned, and all of them due to errors by Padres pitchers.

In the fifth inning Adam Rosales (not a rookie) tripled home Patrick Kivlehan (rookie) to put the Padres up 3-0. Then Perdomo helped himself with a base hit to bring home Rosales and run the lead to 4-0. The Padres put it out of reach in the 6th inning when Alex Dickerson (rookie) hit a solo home run, his 8th of the year. A few batters later Kivlehan added another RBI single to make it 7-0 Padres.

Kivlehan, who homered and singled in his big league debut on Saturday, had a pair of hits on Sunday. He’s off to a decent start with four hits in his first six MLB at-bats.

The Padres take three of four games in the series, giving them a two-game lead on Arizona in the battle to stay out of the National League West basement. San Diego opens a 3-game set against the Chicago Cubs, owners of the best record in baseball, on Monday night at Petco Park. Former Cub Edwin Jackson takes the mound against All-Star Jon Lester.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Throw Away a Win]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 22:21:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/GettyImages-592606648.jpg

With the success guys like Ryan Schimpf and Travis Jankowski have had this year we've kind of grown accustomed to seeing Padres rookies play well. On Saturday night at Petco Park the Padres lost to the Diamondbacks 2-1 but another youngster added his name to the list of rookies who announced their presence with authority.

Patrick Kivlehan made his big league debut and in his second career MLB at-bat he went big fly. Like, really big fly. Kivlehan ripped a Robbie Ray offering in to the left field seats for a 451-foot home run, his first Major League hit. Kivlehan, who just joined the Padres organization after the Mariners put him on waivers a couple of weeks ago, had two of his new team’s three hits.

His blast was the only run the Padres scored but at least it was earned. Both runs the Diamondbacks got came courtesy of errors by starting pitcher Clayton Richard.

Arizona put runners on base in the 5th and 6th innings and both times Richard got a comebacker that should have been a double play ball. But both times the Richard threw the ball wide of 2nd base and in to centerfield. Both miscues led to Arizona runs.

The Diamondbacks had a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning but it looked like the lead was going to evaporate. Kivlehan singled, Adam Rosales doubled and Travis Jankowski walked to load the bases with nobody out. Then the Padres went around the horn in a bad way. Alexei Ramirez popped out to third, Wil Myers lined out to second and Yangervis Solarte fouled out to first to end the threat.

The Padres can still win the 4-game series on Sunday. Luis Perdomo takes the mound against Braden Shipley.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Swept in Tampa]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 15:36:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*131/GettyImages-591518692.jpg

The Padres 9-game East Coast road trip is over, and not a minute too soon. San Diego finished with a whimper, losing to the Rays 2-0 on Wednesday to complete a 3-game Tampa Bay sweep.

The Padres offense has suddenly gone silent. Since beating the Mets 8-6 in New York on Friday the Pads have scored six runs total in their last five games, all losses. On Wednesday, All-Star 1st baseman Wil Myers struck out four times. If you go back to his last three at-bats on Tuesday night Myers has whiffed seven straight trips to the plate.

Rays starter Chris Archer threw 7.1 innings and whiffed nine Padres hitters. Tampa Bay got all its offense in the first inning when infielder Brad Miller, who had three of Tampa’s six hits, hit his third homer in two games, a 2-run shot off San Diego starter Christian Friedrich. After that Friedrich retired eight consecutive Rays before Miller singled. Friedrich went 6.2 innings to take the loss.

The Padres start a four-game set against the Diamondbacks at Petco Park on Thursday night. Paul Clemens gets the start against Archie Bradley. Arizona is just a half game back of San Diego in last place in the National League West.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Nearly No-Hit in NY]]> Sun, 14 Aug 2016 16:13:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/177*120/GettyImages-589508350.jpg

Mets rookie left-hander Steven Matz has long been regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. On Sunday at Citi Field the Padres got a gook at just how good this kid can be.

Matz came five outs shy of throwing a no-hitter in a 5-1 win that gave New York its first series win since June. He started off the 8th inning with a strikeout of Jabari Blash, his 8th whiff of the game, to keep the no-no bid alive. But Alexei Ramirez followed with a line drive that just barely stayed fair down the first base line.

San Diego’s first hit came on Matz’s 105th and final pitch. He left to a standing ovation from the Mets faithful that had not seen their team win back-to-back games since before the All-Star break (July 6-7).

The Padres got their only run of the game in the 9th inning when Yangervis Solarte singled home Wil Myers to avoid a shutout.

The Mets took the lead early against Padres starter Clayton Richard, who was making his first appearance on the mound in a Friars uniform since 2013. Richard was not too bad, going 5.0 innings and allowing just two runs, both on solo home runs.

In the 2nd inning Wilmer Flores took Richard deep. Neil Walker did the same thing in the 4th inning. Richard allowed just one other hit, walked three and struck out three. His start likely ushers in the beginning of the Padres using a 6-man starting pitching rotation. The Friars are trying to limit the innings of some of their starters like 23-year-old Luis Perdomo and Christian Friedrich, who has already surpassed his career high in innings pitched for a season.

The Padres head to Tampa to start a 3-game series against the Rays on Monday night. Perdomo will be on the mound against Drew Smyly.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Phillies Use Triple Play to Beat Padres]]> Sun, 07 Aug 2016 21:02:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/161*120/GettyImages-587139096.jpg

Padres fans got to see a triple play on Sunday, the first one ever at Petco Park. But as is so often the case with the Padres a really cool thing is erased by a loss.

The Phillies took a big lead, let it get away, got it back due to an error, and erased San Diego’s final legitimate scoring threat in a 6-5 win. Philadelphia took two of three games in the weekend series.

Philly scored four times in the 4th inning when they reeled off five straight hits with two outs against Padres starter Jarred Cosart. That hits barrage put the Fightin’ Phils up 5-1. San Diego got one back in the bottom of the 4th when Poway native Alex Dickerson went deep again, a solo job to cut the lead to 5-2. Dickerson has hit a home run in five of his last nine starts.

In the 6th innings Dickerson added a sacrifice fly that scored Travis Jankowski. Then fellow rookie Ryan Schimpf pulled one in to the Petco Porch down the right field line, his 10th dinger of the year to tie the game 5-5.

In the top of the 7th inning Cesar Hernandez hit a routine ground ball to shortstop but rookie Jose Rondon’s throw sailed high. The error put Hernandez on 2nd base and a few batters later Tommy Joseph brought him in with a base hit to put the Phillies back on top 6-5.

In the bottom half of the inning the Friars put the first two runners on with a pair of walks. Jabari Blash came on to pinch-hit and got a pitch on the hands. He grounded it down the 3rd base line to Maikel Franco, who picked up the ball, stepped on the bag and started a 5-4-3 triple play.

The Padres take Monday off then start a 3-game series on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Add Caminiti to Hall of Fame]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2016 20:54:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/171*120/GettyImages-586856374.jpg

NBC 7’s Derek Togerson looks at the newest addition to the Padres Hall of Fame in this commentary

I loved watching Ken Caminiti play baseball. His grit, his toughness, his no-BS attitude … all are essential to a winning team. He was Jason Varitek or Thurman Munson, the one guy in the clubhouse nobody else would ever DARE to question.

It’s rare that a man who only spent four seasons with a franchise ends up in that club’s Hall of Fame. But it may be rarer still for a man to have the impact Caminiti did in four seasons with the San Diego Padres.

He set the tone for a pair of division titles and a World Series appearance. He won an MVP Award with a torn rotator cuff. He scared the daylights out of anyone who even thought about loafing or taking a day off or not giving it his all.

It was borderline impossible to get Ken Caminiti out of the lineup. He endeared himself to fans by playing hurt, personifying the image of an athletic warrior. For those reasons alone Ken Caminiti will always have a spot on the hearts of Padres fans.

Ken Caminiti was also a cheater, and that is what makes his inclusion in the Padres Hall of Fame so interesting.

Caminiti was open about his steroid use, especially during his 1996 MVP year. He was certainly not alone. Baseball was riddled with performance-enhancing drugs even though steroids were added to the league’s list of banned substances in 1991. For some reason it took MLB a decade to realize it doesn’t do much good to make something illegal if you don’t test for it.

Padres fans have vilified other cheaters. Barry Bonds was ridiculed mercilessly when he came to San Diego, and rightfully so. The question, then, is why is it OK to beat down a steroid user on another team but raise up a steroid user on your own team?

I think the reason is Cammy admitted what he did. He didn’t hide from it and Americans are a forgiving lot as long as we feel like we’re not being lied to. If you’re up front with us, there’s a good chance you’ll be back in good graces eventually. That’s why guys like Bonds and Roger Clemens are still looked down upon. They simply refuse to admit any wrongdoing and we’re going to hold it against them until they fess up.

At the end of the day (and Cammy’s days tragically ended far too soon) the essence of the man wins out. Ken Caminiti had a good heart that was tortured by personal demons, something we all have to battle in some way. I’m not condoning his taking banned substances to get an edge. But every team that has a Hall of Fame adds players based on what those players did for the franchise and what they meant to the fans and the city in which he played.

It’s not so much based on numbers as it is on impact and there is no question that the impact Ken Caminiti had on San Diego baseball is worthy of being immortalized in the Padres Hall of Fame. Steroids or not Ken Caminiti would have been in charge of that clubhouse. He was the heart and soul of the best Padres teams of all time. That kind of leadership comes from the soul, not the body, and no steroid can ever enhance the soul.

Welcome the Hall, Cammy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baseball, Softball To Make Olympics Return]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 10:25:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/182*120/Jankowski+Pan-Am+Games.jpg

The International Olympic Committee recently approved five new sports for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Games. A couple of them probably should have never gone away.

Baseball and softball (considered one sport) will return to the Olympics for the first time since San Diego State ace Stephen Strasburg helped the USA win a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Games. The IOC is also adding karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing as medal events.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement praising the decision:

“Baseball and softball are global sports that belong in the Olympics,” said Manfred. “We are grateful to the IOC Executive Board, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the World Baseball Softball Confederation for their collective efforts, which will allow fans throughout the world to again enjoy baseball and softball on the Olympic stage.”

However, since the Summer Olympics take place during the summer it means the best players in the game will not be available. They’ll be in the middle of their regular season. So it will be the top prospects and college kids that make up the Olympic rosters, much like Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski did for Team America during the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Canada.

Jankowski helped the U.S. win a silver medal and told NBC 7 SportsWrap it was one of the most memorable experiences of his life:

In the next Olympic baseball tournament several other Padres prospects will likely be involved. Through the draft and international signings Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has added more than 50 players from six different countries that will likely be eligible to play for their teams in Tokyo.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Slug Their Way To Series Win]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 15:29:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/GettyImages-585717240.jpg

The Padres started five rookies in Wednesday’s series finale against the Brewers. This is not exactly the youth movement we’ve been hearing about but if it keeps yielding the same results the Friars will certainly take it.

San Diego whipped Milwaukee 12-3 to win the 3-game series at Petco Park. The Padres had five rookies in their starting lineup, including Ryan Schimpf, who on Wednesday found out he was named the National League Rookie of the Month for July. Schimpf led the Major Leagues with nine home runs for the month and finished July with an absurd 1.092 OPS.

On Wednesday Schimpf added another extra-base hit to his resume. He doubled in a run in the 7th inning but still may have had the least impact on the lopsided outcome.

Leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski had a pair of hits, stole two bases, scored three runs, and made a stellar diving catch in centerfield ... Jabari Blash hit his first career MLB home run, a laser that just snuck over the right field wall (making Twitter explode with the #Blashtoff hashtag) … Alex Dickerson doubled, drove in a run and scored another ... and Jose Rondon had a single and scored a run.

Not bad production from the young lineup assembled by Padres manager Andy Green (a rookie skipper) but he sees a lot of work still to be done.

"I think it's good," said Green. "I go back to the process right now. There are things we can improve on today. Today's a great game, you win 12-3, but there are still things you can do better. Each one of those guys has something that occurred during the game that they could capitalize on to a higher degree. Pleased with the final result? Sure. But I think where our focus is going to remain the rest of the year is on the process and how we execute in those situations."

The offense didn’t need to be that good with veteran Edwin Jackson on the mound. The 32-year-old starter took a shutout in to the 8th inning before giving up three runs, two of them on a Ryan Braun home run to center, but by then it was too late to make a difference. Jackson finished the 8th inning to get his second win of the season.

The Padres scored in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings and every time a run crossed the plate one of their rookies was involved somehow but the biggest day belonged to 3rd baseman Yangervis Solarte (an old man in his third big league season). Solarte had three hits, including a long 2-run home run in the 6th inning, drove in three runs and scored three runs. 1st baseman Wil Myers and catcher Christian Bethancourt also had a pair of hits. In fact, every member of the Padres starting lineup had at least one knock.

The Padres are off on Thursday then start a 3-game set against the Phillies on Friday night at Petco Park.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Make Just One Trade Deadline Deal]]> Mon, 01 Aug 2016 15:20:52 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/174*120/Colin+Rea+Marlins.jpg

In a bit of "now that doesn't happen every day" news the Padres have swung another deal with the Marlins to bring back right-handed pitcher Colin Rea.

Rea was part of a deal consummated on Friday, July 29 that also sent pitchers Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero to Miami for four players. But Rea had to leave his Marlins debut the next day in the fourth inning with an elbow injury. He was subsequently placed on the 15-day disabled list. After that happened Miami called up Padres General Manager A.J. Preller.

"They brought it back to us [asking] is there a way to rework the deal and do something that makes both sides feel good?" said Preller. "We stated our position, they stated their position and ultimately as you go back and forth the best way to handle this is for both clubs to get together and say, OK this makes sense for us going forward. That's what we did."

The Padres will send minor league pitcher Luis Castillo, who was included in the seven-player deal, back to the Marlins in return. All the other players involved will stay with their new teams.

Rea is a candidate for elbow surgery, but the Padres are unsure exactly how bad his elbow issue is yet.

"He's seen a couple of doctors but doesn't really have a diagnosis yet," said Preller. "He got an MRI earlier in the day today (Monday). We'll read the MRI and we'll get him back here to San Diego tomorrow and get him with our doctors and find out the severity of the injury."

The Padres were not looking to trade Rea but were overwhelmed by the Marlins offer and made the initial transaction so they were open the idea of bringing the young right-hander back.

That trade is the only one the Padres made before the MLB trade deadline. Preller says they did field calls on several of their catchers, most notably catcher Derek Norris, but decided not to make any deals.

"We view Derek as a quality player and we have a set value that if we were going to get to that amount and anything short of that we were very happy to go forward with Derek."

It is still possible for any player to be moved during August in a waiver wire deal. Norris and outfielder Jon Jay (once he recovers from a broken arm) would be among the candidates who could still be moved.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[#InPrellerWeTrust]]> Sun, 31 Jul 2016 14:28:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/A.J.+Preller+On+Kemp+Trade.png

NBC 7’s Derek Togerson looks at what should be a bright future for the Padres in this commentary

In the 10th inning of Saturday night’s game against the Reds, Padres 3rd baseman Adam Rosales provided a moment of catharsis when he pounded a 2-2 pitch in to the left-centerfield seats to give the Padres a 2-1, walk-off win.

It was a fun end to the night because … well, walk-offs are ALWAYS fun. But also because the beginning of the game saw the Padres trade away Matt Kemp. The veteran outfielder was the fourth starter to be dealt in span of five days and the clubhouse was starting to feel the strain.

“It’s been tough over the last number of days,” said manager Andy Green. “There are a lot of guys we love around here that are going other places and having opportunities that are different than being on the Padres. I loved having Matt on the club so saying good bye to him is a tough moment. Middle of the lineup hitter, but I think the way we look at it right now is we’re building for the future.”

That future may be distant. Pitcher Hansel Rodriguez, the guy they got from the Blue Jays for Melvin Upton Jr., is 19 years old. So is 1st baseman Josh Naylor, the key piece of the deal that sent Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to Miami. Anderson Espinoza, the pitcher the Friars got from the Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz, is only 18. Chris Paddack, the pitcher who came over in the Fernando Rodney trade, is just 20 but the team just found out he needs elbow surgery and will miss about a year. Even going back to the James Shields trade, they got Erik Johnson and 17-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr.

Then you look at the 19 international players they’ve signed and realize Cuban outfielder Jorge Ona is among the elder statesman and he’s only 19 years old. First round pick Cal Quantrill, a pitcher out of Stanford, looks like an old man at 21 years old.

There is a cluster of players that is about to be infused in to the Padres system, all from 16 to 21 years of age, unlike anything the franchise has ever seen before. That’s why the Padres made the deals they did this week. They didn’t get any prospects back for Kemp but with that one move they’ll save in excess of $20 million and they plan to spend it.

“It’s a deal about financial flexibility and I feel we got to a point financially with the Braves that we can use that money down the road,” said General Manager A.J. Preller, the mastermind behind the moves. “Reallocate it to our big league club, reallocate it to the amateur market … there’s a lot of flexibility in the dollars that were presented to us and ultimately that’s where the trade came from.”

There was an outcry on social media about getting rid of all the recognizable faces on the Padres roster, and that’s understandable. Fans want to have All-Star-caliber players to root for. Preller understands that but thinks there’s one thing that will make fans even happier than a few big names: Winning.

“You’re always looking for players that fans can identify with, especially players that fans like to see play,” said Preller. “Fans want to come out and see good players. They want to see dynamic players. But I think most of all they want to see a good team, a team that has a chance to win a division title and I think from the standpoint definitely Matt Kemp is recognizable and has done a lot of good things in the game and will continue to do that but I think our goal and the purpose behind the deal is to get a group of guys together and a group of guys the fans are going to be able to enjoy watching every single night and a team that plays well as a group and a team that’s on the top bar of the standings. I think the move enables us to play some more young guys and to get to that point in the next couple of years where we have a group of guys that the fans want to come out and see play every night.”

This is why I’m excited about what Preller is doing. I know a lot of Friars fans are seeing this as the “Same old Padres” and immediately flash back to the fire sales of yesteryear. That’s natural. But this situation is truly different.

In the past the Padres would get rid of big name talent, save a few bucks, and not invest those savings back in to the team. They would talk about building the farm system and having a strong organization from the bottom up but never actually DO it. They constantly tried fighting on two fronts and that is simply not a viable business plan for a small-market team.

Now, for the first time, the Padres have a clearly defined plan and they are executing it. Preller is basically playing Pokemon Go with prospects and trying to collect as many as he possibly can. That creates competition in the minor leagues and fosters a “survival of the fittest” atmosphere where players have to live up to their potential or risk being passed up and left behind.

In the past the Padres would pander to their top prospects, letting them almost coast through because the players knew they would eventually get a big league call-up. But once they reached The Show they were too often overmatched and unprepared for the highest level of professional baseball. Preller is trying to make sure guys get ready to become Major Leaguers before then spend even a day with the Padres.

That means having, as Preller says, more answers than questions. They will take their lumps at the big league level for a couple of years but, let’s be honest. Were they really going to contend with what they have right now (or in 2017? 2018?) anyway?

There is no guarantee Preller’s plan will work like it did for the Royals or Astros. Padres fans have had to wait for years to see a winner at Petco Park and the last thing they want to hear is another request to be patient. But unlike the last four decades or so, this time the Friars are being set up not for a couple of flash-in-the-pan, flukie playoff trips. They’re laying the foundation for sustained success.

It’s a gamble, for sure, but it’s the way things have to be done and if it happens … the wait will be worth it.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Walk Off Winners]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 22:43:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/164*120/GettyImages-584797880.jpg

Just before Saturday night’s game against the Reds, the Padres had to pull outfielder Matt Kemp because he was being traded to the Atlanta Braves. So Andy Green juggled the lineup, moving Wil Myers from 1st base to right field … shifting Brett Wallace from 3rd base to 1st base … and inserting Adam Rosales at 3rd base.

It took a while but the move certainly paid off. Rosales led off the 10th inning with a home run, giving the Padres a 2-1 walk-off win. It was the 8th home run of the season for Rosales and certainly the most dramatic.

Leading up to it, though, was a stellar pitching performance by Christian Friedrich, who tossed 6.0 innings and allowed just one run. After he left the Padres used four relievers to throw four perfect innings. Jose Dominguez, Ryan Buchter, Brandon Maurer and Brad Hand needed just 39 pitches to set down 12 straight Reds hitters.

The Padres can win the series on Sunday afternoon with Paul Clemens taking the mound against Homer Bailey.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Trade Kemp]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 21:08:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-583771498.jpg

When the MLB season started, it seemed impossible the Padres would ever be able to get out from under the contracts of Melvin Upton Jr. or Matt Kemp.

In less than a week, both of them were traded away.

On Saturday the Friars agreed to deal Kemp to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for troubled but talented IF/OF Hector Olivera in a money-saving move for San Diego.

Kemp is having a better-than-expected offensive season with 23 home runs and 69 RBI but his .285 on-base percentage and sub-par outfield defense nullify the traditional statistics. The Padres owed him about $54 million through 2019.

Olivera has not played since April 11 because he’s serving an 82-game suspension for violating MLB’s Domestic Violence policy. Atlanta owes him about $29 million through the 2020 season. San Diego is expected to designate Olivera for assignment when he is eligible to play again on August 1, basically eating his contract. All-in-all the Padres are expected to save in excess of $20 million in the transaction.

The Padres don't have many big-name players left, something Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is aware of. But he hopes building a better overall product will be better than having a few household names.

"Matt Kemp is a name that's recognizable and he's done a lot of good things in the game and will continue to do that," said Preller, "but I think our goal and the purpose behind the deal is to get a group of guys together and a group of guys the fans are going to enjoy watching every single night and a team that's at the top of the standings."

The move also clears space in the outfield for the Padres to promote another of their prospects. Jabari Blash, who made the team out of Spring Training, will return from El Paso and be in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon against the Reds.

Kemp’s time in San Diego was short but certainly not boring. The former Dodgers All-Star was the cornerstone piece in the wild 2014 off-season where Padres General Manager A.J. Preller completely restructured the franchise. Kemp is the one who gave Preller the nickname “Rock Star G.M.” after A.J. swung trades for him, Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Derek Norris.

Kemp, though, did not lead the Padres back to the playoffs like many fans had hoped. He leaves after hitting 46 home runs and driving in 169 runs in just 254 games.

Between Tuesday and Saturday Preller traded Kemp, Upton (to the Blue Jays), and starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea (to the Marlins).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Padres Trade Outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. ]]> Tue, 26 Jul 2016 09:35:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-512501990.jpg

The San Diego Padres have traded outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. for Toronto Blue Jays right-handed pitcher Hansel Rodriguez and cash considerations, according to the Padres organization.

The Padres are paying all but $5 million of the $22 million left on Upton's contract, which expires after the 2017 season.

With six days left until the MLB trade deadline, other deals could be made.

Upton did not play in Monday night's game. He was held out for the second straight game despite being healthy.

After the news broke Tuesday morning, Upton commented on his love for San Diego in a Twitter post.

Padres GM A.J. Preller said he's been focused the last few days on finalizing the Upton deal. However, the team will now look at other possible trades including what kind of market (if any) develops for Matt Kemp.

As of now Andrew Cashner will make his start Tuesday night in Toronto.

Padres fans can expect this trade to give Poway native Alex Dickerson, who had six hits (two of them homers) in the last two games, a chance to really play every day and see what he can do at the Big League level.

The Padres said 19-year-old Rodriguez has a 3.06 ERA and 26 strikeouts against 11 walks in six starts, in a release sent early Tuesday.

The team is in Toronto for the franchise's first-ever trip to the city.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[No No-No But A Heck of a Padres Debut]]> Sun, 17 Jul 2016 17:08:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/161*120/GettyImages-576805242.jpg

Entering Sunday’s series finale against the Giants at Petco Park, the Padres had never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter. The greatest pitchers the franchise has ever had, from Cy Young winners like Randy Jones and Jake Peavy to Hall of Famers like Gaylord Perry, weren’t able to do it. All-Stars like Kevin Brown and Chris Young couldn’t do it.

So it, in some strange way, almost makes perfect sense that a player who had never pitched for the team before, wearing a uniform the team had never used before, will have to be the one to break the streak.

Edwin Jackson was called up from Triple-A El Paso on Sunday morning. On Sunday morning he had a lot of people believing he was going to make history with that first San Diego no-no. Jackson, who threw a no-no for the Diamondbacks in 2010, had a no-hitter through 6.1 innings before Giants pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie broke it up with a no-doubter home run to right field.

Still, it was a nice first impression to make with Padres fans.

"It's definitely a great way to have everything kicked off with a new team," said Jackson, who has now played for 11 MLB franchises. "I know I have life still in my arm. Like I say, I know my abilities. I know what I can do. I've been telling people a long time I still feel like I have a lot on the table. I've had an erratic career but I still think I'm in my prime and I still think I have a lot to offer."

Plus, the day was not a total loss. Jackson got the win in a 5-3 victory to complete their first sweep of the 2016 season and it came against the team with the best record in baseball.

Jackson was on a tightrope for most of his big day. The Giants had five baserunners in the first three innings (three walks, error, fielder’s choice) but the veteran was able to get out each time with no damage done.

San Diego’s offense broke through against Giants starter Johnny Cueto in the 4th inning. Matt Kemp and Christian Bethancourt both hit monster solo home runs to put the Padres up 2-0. In the top of the 6th Ryan Schmipf singled home Alex Dickerson and Jackson, who had a pair of singles at the plate, lined one to left-center to bring home Bethancourt and put the Padres up 4-0.

In the top of the 7th Jackson struck out Brandon Crawford (his 4th K of the afternoon) before running into trouble. Gregor Blanco hit a dribbler back to the mound but Edwin bobbled it and couldn’t get the out at first. It was clearly an error so the no-hitter was intact but Ramiro Pena followed with a walk and Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent in Conor Gillaspie to pinch-hit.

It was the right move for the San Francisco skipper. Gillaspie crushed a 3-run home run to right field, the first and only hit Jackson gave up. Padres manager Andy Green went out to get Jackson, who walked off the field to a standing ovation from the 35,784 fans at Petco Park.

Gillaspie’s shot also cut the San Diego lead to 4-3 but Yangervis Solarte got one of them back with a solo home run to right field. From there Ryan Buchter and new closer Brandon Maurer kept the Giants off the scoreboard to complete the sweep.

The Padres hit the road for a 10-game road trip through St. Louis, Washington and Toronto (for the first time ever) that starts on Monday at Busch Stadium. If Christian Friedrich can beat San Diego native Mike Leake then the Padres will have a 4-game winning streak their longest of the year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Balk Off The Giants]]> Sat, 16 Jul 2016 22:30:03 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/171*120/GettyImages-576683482.jpg

Over the course of Saturday night’s game between the Padres and Giants at Petco Park, San Diego baseball fans ran the emotional gamut. But in the end they went home happy.

A night that started with a “I like how this is progressing” before deteriorating in to a “This is so typically depressing” ended with a resounding “WHOO HOO!!” after the Friars pulled off a 7-6, 10-inning, comeback win over the Giants thanks to a balk from San Francisco closer Santiago Casilla that brought home the game-winning run.

Infielder Ryan Schimpf helped the Padres to an early lead. He hit a solo home run in the second inning and an RBI triple in the third inning, the first triple of the MLB career. Matt Kemp also hammered his 17th homer of the season off Giants starter Jeff Samardzija as the Padres built a 5-2 lead.

That lead was given away rapidly by the Padres bullpen. Carlos Villanueva pitched the 6th inning and gave up a pair of solo home runs, one to Mac Williamson and one to Ramiro Pena, and the game was tied 5-5.

That was the score in the top of the 10th when another beleaguered Padres reliever gave up a gopher ball. Kevin Quackenbush served up a dinger to Giants catcher Buster Posey to give the Giants a 6-5 lead so they went to their closer and Casilla imploded immediately.

Alex Dickerson and Derek Norris singled and after Norris stole 2nd base the Padres had two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Adam Rosales then snuck one through the 5.5 hole to bring home Dickerson and tie it 6-6.

On the very next pitch, there was no pitch. Casilla caught a spike, tripped and balked to being in Norris and send Padres fans away with a smile.

That smile will get even bigger if the Padres can pull off their first sweep of the series on Sunday. Edwin Jackson makes his San Diego debut on the mound against Johnny Cueto.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Add Another Unlikely Starter]]> Sat, 16 Jul 2016 15:20:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*128/Edwin+Jackson+Braves.jpg

It’s not often that a minor league call-up making his debut for a big league club immediately becomes the current staff’s leader in career wins. But this is how 2016 has gone for the San Diego Padres.

On Saturday the Friars said Edwin Jackson will be their starting pitcher in Sunday’s series finale against the Giants at Petco Park. San Diego signed Jackson to a minor league deal in June and sent him to Triple-A El Paso where he started three games and rolled up a 7.11 Earned Run Average.

Still, after the trade of Drew Pomeranz the Padres are desperate for starting pitchers. Here’s how their current rotation looks (with career win-loss records):

Luis Perdomo 3-4
Christian Friedrich 9-21
Andrew Cashner 30-49
Colin Rea 7-5
Edwin Jackson 88-108

When Jackson was a free agent in 2012 the Padres were interested in potentially signing him but the Cubs offered more money. It turned out to be a good non-get for the Friars. Jackson underperformed, was sent to the bullpen, got released, signed with the Braves, went to the Marlins as a free agent, got released, and is now on his way to San Diego.

When Jackson takes the mound for the Padres it will be the 11th different MLB team he has pitched for in his 14-year big league career.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Evolution of Drew Pomeranz]]> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 15:44:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/Drew+Pomeranz+Padres+Pitcher.jpg

It should come as no surprise that Drew Pomeranz is an All-Star. The Padres lefty was a first-round MLB Draft pick for a reason. Coming out of Ole Miss he was one of the best players in the entire nation so he always knew he had the ability to have success in The Show.

“You have to always expect it out of yourself no matter what you’re doing,” said Pomeranz. “We’re all out here to be the best.”

The Indians took him with the 5th overall selection in 2010. A year later he was sent to the Rockies in a trade for Ubaldo Jimenez, and that’s where the problems started. Pomeranz had one of the best curve balls in the game. Notice the past tense.

“It disappeared for two years for me when I was in Colorado,” said Pomeranz. “I’ve always been fastball-curve ball and really relied on that pitch and when it goes away it just totally changes how you attack hitters. It came back in 2014 once I got to Oakland.”

It was with the A’s that Drew really started to turn in to the All-Star pitcher he is today. One of the first guys who noticed the transformation was another All-Star who saw that not even Pomeranz understood just how good his breaking ball was.

“No he didn’t,” says A’s catcher Stephen Vogt, who worked with Pomeranz for two years by the Bay. “His curve is one of the best in baseball. To see him using it now, it’s really good to see. Drew’s done great.”

Drew will readily admit he was still figuring out how to deploy his physics-defying weapon when he was traded from the A’s to the Padres in December of 2015.

“It was really good but I really didn’t understand how to use it,” said Pomeranz. “I was throwing it to one spot, basically. Getting my curve ball back and finding another pitch is helping me kind of figure out how to pitch and how to use it against guys.”

That other pitch he developed is a cut fastball, something that is a relatively new addition to the arsenal.

“I always knew I needed to develop a third pitch but nothing ever broke through until this off-season. I was playing catch with a guy about two weeks before Spring Training and he said something that just made sense to me. It’s gotten to the point now that it’s a real weapon for me. It’s kind of pushed me over the edge this year.”

With Pomeranz figuring out his curve and nearly mastering the cutter he had the three-pitch mix that starters need. It’s rare that a front-of-the-rotation pitcher only throws two things. But since the Padres didn’t know about his new offering they went in to Spring Training thinking Pomeranz would be coming out of the bullpen and getting the occasional spot start.

When Drew saw the schedule of his early workload he made a decision and took bold action.

“I was scheduled for an inning, a day off, and an inning, and I said I think they’re trying to make me in the bullpen,” said Pomeranz. “So I talked to [pitching coach Darren Balsley] and I went in and had a meeting with Andy [Green]. I sat down with them and told them how I felt. I said I’ve been working on a third pitch. Everything feels good, my shoulder feels great. I’d like a chance.”

Green appreciated Pomeranz stating his case for the rotation.

“He said; I feel like I have to let you start. You’re all in on it.”

It might be the best decision the Padres made all year. Pomeranz leads the Padres with eight wins and is among the National League leaders in ERA, strikeouts and opponents’ batting average. He doesn’t become a free agent until 2019 so he might be the face of the San Diego pitching staff for the foreseeable future.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>