<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Padres]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/feature/san-diego-padres http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sat, 25 Apr 2015 07:40:56 -0700 Sat, 25 Apr 2015 07:40:56 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Padres Shut Out By Dodgers]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 22:28:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/471020572.jpg

This time, there would be no comeback.

The Padres ran in to Dodgers’ ace 1-A Zack Greinke and although San Diego starter Andrew Cashner threw pretty well, the highest-scoring offense in the National League suffered its second shutout of the season in a 3-0 loss to Los Angeles.

Greinke threw 7.0 innings, striking out seven Padres hitters. The only real threat the Friars mounted offensively was in the second inning when the first three batters reached base. But, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Alexi Amarista and Cashner struck out then Wil Myers lined out to second base.

On the mound Cashner was much better than he was in his last start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He went 7.0 innings with six punchouts, allowing just two runs. San Diego’s offense couldn’t back him up, finishing with six hits, five of them singles (Matt Kemp’s 8th inning, 2-out double was the only extra-base hit).

The Dodgers take a 1-game lead over the Padres in the National League West. On Saturday the Padres get Ian Kennedy back off the disabled list to make the start against Brandon McCarthy. Kennedy left his first game of the season after three innings with a hamstring injury.

Speaking of hamstring injuries, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig left Friday night’s game after re-injuring his left hamstring running out a ground ball. The ailment caused Puig to miss four games earlier this season.

The Padres fall to 1-3 against the Dodgers this season and have suffered their first 3-game losing streak on 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Make Roster Moves For Dodgers Series]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:44:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/456395710.jpg

It's about as big as a 3-game series in April can be.

Petco Park. Padres vs. Dodgers. San Diego and Los Angeles tied for first place in the National League West.

If the Padres win the series, it will be HUGE for setting up the rest of the year. But if they lose another set to the prohibitive division favorites ... well, that would be bad. The Padres have heard one of baseball's old sayings far too often.

"You can't win a division in April, but you can lose it," said 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks.

"You can't win a pennant in April, but you can lose a pennant in April," said catcher Derek Norris, in a completely different conversation.

For the last four years the Padres have, indeed, lost the division in April, so this is a welcome change.

The Padres made a roster move getting ready for the series against the Dodgers. Relief pitcher Shawn Kelley, who has taken two of the team's seven losses, went on the 15-day disabled list with a left calf strain. In his place, the Friars recalled Kevin Quackenbush from Triple-A El Paso.

Quack has actually trimmed his signature beard, cutting it nearly in half. So was it a superstition or team-building kind of thing that led to the change?

"Nah, it was just a fresh start," said Quackenbush. "Starting new."

Another something new will be the crowd. The Padres expect a majority of Padres fans to show up on all three days, something that has not happened very often in recent years as Dodgers fans have made Petco Park a version of Chavez Ravine South.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Lose to Rockies 5-4 ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:17:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470753268.jpg

San Diego Padres' attempts to pull off a third win against the Colorado Rockies were in vain as they fell to their rivals 5-4 at Coors Field Wednesday night. 

The Friars opened the night tied for first place in the National League West and jumped out to an early lead, like they have the entire series thusfar.

Yangervis Solarte hit his second homerun of the season, a solo shot in the first inning.

But the Rockies rebounded by pushing two runs across in the bottom half of the first off the Padres ace on the hill, James Shields.

He faired pretty well going six innings and allowing just three runs in the friendly hitting ballpark.

Shields, however was not around for the decision. Padres were nursing a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning, but Joaquin Benoit gave up a solo homerun to Corey Dickerson, his second solo homerun of the game. He went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs.

Shawn Kelley got the loss for the Friars; he’s now 0-2 in the 2015 campaign.

San Diego is now 10-6 on the season. They will close out the series on Thursday against Colorado at 12:10 p.m. before heading home to host the Dodgers for a three-game series starting on Friday night at 7:10 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tony Gwynn Remembered in San Diego]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 15:27:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Gwynn-Fans-4.jpg Legendary San Diego Padres baseball player Tony Gwynn was honored by fans after he died Monday morning.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Season in Images]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:30:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres+pics+85+8.jpg Relive all the great moments from the San Diego Padres' 2014 season in photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Pull Off Another Win Against Rockies]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 22:16:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470580712.jpg

Derek Norris hit a two-run double to cap off a four-run eighth inning as the Padres rallied for a 7-6 win Tuesday over the host Colorado Rockies.

Leadoff hitter Wil Myers contributed three of the Friars’ 13 hits, including an RBI single in the eighth, and Clint Barmes hit his first home run of the season as they overcame a three-run deficit.

It’s the sixth time the Padres (10-5) have come from behind to win already this season.

Brandon Maurer picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief in the seventh. He picked up starter Brandon Morrow, who allowed five runs on six hits in six innings. Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff homer to former Padre Nick Hundley in the ninth, but nailed down his fifth save.

Hundley also had an RBI triple for the Rockies (7-7).

The two teams play again Wednesday at 5:40 p.m.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Pound Rockies 14-3]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:19:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470491188.jpg

San Diego's swinging Friars left Chicago in the rearview mirror and went to Colorado to rock the Rockies 14-3 on Monday night after posting a five spot in the first inning.

They then added four more runs in the top of the second to go up 9-0. Every Padres player in the starting lineup had at least one hit — 17 total.

They won game one of a four game set before hosting the Hollywood Swingers — aka LA Dodgers — on Friday at Petco Park.

The Padres pummeled the pearl with Matt Kemp and Derek Norris, both with three hits each and combining to drive in five runs. Three other players had two hits apiece.

San Diego will play again Tuesday at 5:40 p.m. Padres are now 9-5 this season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Pitcher Andrew Cashner : The Deer Hunter]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 20:53:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/469633994.jpg

The last few months have been emotionally draining for Andrew Cashner. The Padres right-hander has been helping his ailing mother back home in Texas, while still trying to focus on baseball and all the preparation that goes with it.

But, Cash has a unique way to escape the stress, and a partner from the Lone Star state to enjoy it with. NBC 7's Derek Togerson has more.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Win Road Series In Chicago]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 14:13:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/470367476.jpg

In his first two starts of 2015, Padres starter Andrew Cashner allowed 10 runs. However, only five of them were earned. His defense has not been helping out very much.

That trend continued on Sunday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, but after one very bad inning, Cash found a way to avoid any more defensive lapses: Just don’t let anybody on base.

The Cubs got two unearned runs in the first inning on three singles and two errors. After that, Cash buckled down, only allowing two hits over the next five innings, to get his first win of the season in a 5-2 Padres victory. Cashner finished with five strikeouts and realized he has a new toy to play with.

After struggling with his fastball location in his first two starts, Cash used his much-improved changeup more often to great effect. It’s a pitch he’s developed enough to use as a legitimate out pitch.

San Diego’s offense once again staged a comeback, the fifth time they’ve overcome a deficit to win a game this season. Will Middlebrooks almost immediately erased Chicago’s 2-0 lead with a 2-run homer in the top of the second inning. Middlebrooks has already hit three home runs and driven in nine. For the entire 2014 season, Padres 3rd basemen went deep 11 times with 56 RBI.

The Padres took the lead in the 6th inning on Will Venable’s line drive single that scored Matt Kemp, then padded the lead a bit when Yangervis Solarte smashed his first home run of the season off Chicago reliever Jason Motte, a 2-run blast to make it a 5-2 game.

Closer Craig Kimbrel threw two straight games and would have been unavailable for Monday’s series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field, so instead of getting another save Joaquin Benoit threw a scoreless 9th to get his first save of the season.

That decision was made by bench coach Dave Roberts, who took over after manager Bud Black was ejected in the second inning after saying something from the dugout to home plate umpire James Hoye. On the very next pitch from Cubs starter Jon Lester, Middlebrooks hit his home run.

The Padres took two out of three from the Cubs at Wrigley, giving the Friars their first road series win of the season. San Diego has won three straight series overall.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Padres Are On A Post-Season Pace]]> Sat, 18 Apr 2015 17:23:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/470229494.jpg

With 7.4-percent of the 2015 Major League Baseball season complete, I am confident in saying the Padres will make the playoffs. That’s not just my opinion. I mean, it is my opinion, but this is separate from that. No, no, THIS bold statement actually has math as backup (yes, I know this is a ridiculous thing to be writing 12 games in to a season, but I’m so excited about the prospects for this year I couldn’t help myself, so thank you for humoring me).

Since 1995, when MLB expanded its playoffs format to include eight teams, only 10 teams have won 90 games and not earned a post-season spot (the last, of course, being the 2010 San Diego Padres). Now, 90 wins is a lot, and it doesn’t happen very often.

At 7-5, the Padres are only two games over .500, which seems like an awful long way 18 games over .500 they need to be to hit that magical 90-win plateau. But, when you break it down incrementally, San Diego is actually ahead of schedule when it comes to reaching 90 wins.

Over the course of a 162-game season it’s tough to see the big picture. There’s a lot going on here. Plus, the math gets a little goosey when dividing in to 162, so let’s simplify it by using 160 games and holding the final two games out for a bit.

In our 160 game scenario, a team would have to go 44-36 in each half of the season … 22-18 in each quarter … or 11-9 in each eighth, which can be achieved by alternating 10-game sprints with a record of 6-4, then 5-5.

Think about that. If a team goes 5-5 on a 10-game road trip, that’s pretty good. If that team comes home and goes 6-4 on a 10-game home stand, it might not seem all that great, but it’s perfect for playoff positioning.

Now, take all that and add it up, at the end a team is 88-72 with two games to play. How your team fares in those two games will determine whether or not you get to buy playoff tickets.

So at 7-5 all the Padres have to do is go 4-4 over their next eight games and they’ll be right on target to make the post-season.

The problem for the Padres all these years has been really bad starts that create too big a mathematical hole to crawl out of. So far, it seems they’re managing to avoid blowing up the equation and putting themselves out of it before Memorial Day.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Come Back, Then Lose in Chicago]]> Sat, 18 Apr 2015 15:30:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padres-Recap-0418.jpg

There were a few firsts at Wrigley Field on Saturday. Matt Kemp hit his first home run as a Padre. Kris Bryant got his first hit and RBI as a big league ballplayer.

The Padres then overcame a 4-run, 9th-inning deficit for the first time in years to force bonus baseball, only to watch their All-Star closer take his first loss as a Padre. Chicago won 7-6 in 11 innings.

Kemp's dinger came in the first inning, a 2-run shot off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. After that, the San Diego bats were silenced. Until the 9th inning, that is.

Ross whiffed nine in 5.2 innings. He allowed Bryant's first hit, an RBI single in the 5th inning to score Dexter Fowler and tie the game at 2-2. In the 6th Ross gave up a solo home run to catcher Miguel Montero, who hit two homers in the game, the second coming an inning later off reliever Chris Rearick, who allowed the first run of his MLB career.

Down 6-2 in the 9th, the Padres bats erupted. Yonder Alonso singled, Matt Kemp singled, Justin Upton singled to score Alonso, Will Middlebrooks doubled to score Kemp, Jedd Gyorko hit in to a fielder's choice to score Upton, Alexi Amarista struck out, Yangervis Solarte ripped a pinch-hit single to score Middlebrooks and the game was all tied at 6. It was the second time this year the Padres have scored four runs in the 9th. They never got more than three runs in the 9th inning of any game in 2014.

That gave the Friars a chance to get their first extra-innings win of the season. Instead, Craig Kimbrel allowed a bases-loaded single to Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro and the Cubs walked off winners.

The Padres can get their first win in a road series on Sunday behind Andrew Cashner, who is looking for his first win of the year, against Cubs lefty Jon Lester, who would like to get his first win in a Cubs uniform.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Trade Winds Are Blowing Again]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 22:35:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/469393216.jpg

The Padres are in Chicago for a 3-game series against the Cubs, so this is a good time to check in on the wheeling and dealing ways of A.J. Preller.

It's no secret the Padres are looking for a few more pieces to their puzzle, specifically at shortstop. The Friars have been rumored to have interest in Chicago All-Star Starlin Castro. Of course, San Diego has also been rumored to be in on Rangers SS Elvis Andrus, Nationals SS Ian Desmond and Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki.

Basically, if you have a shortstop, expect A.J. to be giving you a call. Or, at least, expect someone to assume A.J. will be giving you a call and report it, because for general managers (and media members) around baseball, Preller has become the Boogeyman.

The Padres' first-year G.M. has turned baseball on its ear. First he moved 30 players in a 24-hour period in December. Then he plucked Craig Kimbrel out of Atlanta on the day before the season started. Now that he's in the market for a shortstop, the other 29 MLB teams are likely on high alert.

Now, the Padres will be mentioned when any player becomes available. Even if they have zero interest in acquiring that player, the impact with which Preller landed in San Diego has created such a crater, we all HAVE to look at the Padres as a possibility.

One proposed trade partner is the Cubs, who have Castro plus prospects Javier Baez and Addison Russell in the pipeline. Chicago's President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has been characteristically cryptic about his team's immediate future. He said all his top prospects can be on the field at the same time because they can move to other positions. He also said big trades could be coming.

Chicago would likely be looking for pitching help in return, and unless they're willing to take some top-notch relievers (something the Padres are flush with) they likely won't get a starter from San Diego. The Padres dealt Matt Wisler, their top pitching prospect, to the Braves in the Kimbrel deal.

It's tantalizing to think the Padres could add another impact bat to the lineup, especially at a middle infield spot, and if anyone can find a way to work out a deal it's Preller. However, something surprising has happened early in 2015:

The Padres aren't as desperate for a shortstop as it seemed they were.

Alexi Amarista is probably best used as a utility player. Ditto Clint Barmes. But through 11 games the duo has combined to hit .289 with five runs scored and two errors (both by Barmes). That's not setting the world on fire, but a lot of National League teams will gladly take that from their 8th spot in the order.

Now, I'm not saying it's good enough to win a championship. But it is good enough to give Preller time to work. Plus, if it looks like the Padres are going after a player because it's a luxury instead of a necessity, it changes the asking price from other clubs.

So the Padres might not leave Wrigley Field with a new team mate. But they could very well leave with a series win, and that's much more important.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres OF Wil Myers Goes Bare (handed)]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 14:30:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/168*120/469277588.jpg

Padres outfielder Wil Myers is only 24 years old, yet he's one of the last of a dying breed of old-school ballplayers:

Guys who do not use batting gloves.

In an era where some players will don several different sets of batting gloves within the framework of one game, Myers does not ... has not ... and will not ever use them, a point me made quite clear to NBC 7's Derek Togerson during Padres FanFest at Petco Park this year.

Former Red Sox star Ken Harrelson is widely known as the first player to use a batting glove full-time, doing so in the late 1960's. In fact, in 1968 Harrelson led the league in RBI, was an All-Star, and finished 3rd in the American League MVP voting while wearing gloves, perhaps opening other hitters' eyes to the possibility.

But, there are earlier reports of hitters experimenting with golf gloves at the plate. In the 1940's Giants star Bobby Thomson (yes, THAT Bobby Thomson) played around with them when pro golfer Danny Lawler gave him a pair to protect his hands from the cold early-season games in New York.

Since then ballplayers have tried the one-glove look (like Rod Carew), or the more popular 2-glove approach that is almost ubiquitous today.

In fact, Myers, Astros outfielder Evan Gattis, and Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter are the only players in the game who go gloveless permanently, regardless of weather conditions. Of course, Wil has had the benefit of playing in Tampa and San Diego, where cold weather is not a concern. Padres fans would probably like to keep it that way for a while.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Padres Slam Giants, Win Series]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 16:12:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/166*120/469501414.jpg

In 2002, Wil Nieves made his MLB debut with the Padres. He was behind the plate for another rookie, a pitcher named Jake Peavy. Nieves got his first big league hit on that Sunday afternoon in July.

After that season Nieves left San Diego and played for six other big league teams, returning to the Padres for the 2015 season to be the backup for Derek Norris. In his first game back in a Padres uniform, another Sunday afternoon (although this time in April), Jake Peavy was on the mound again (although this time in a San Francisco Giants uniform).

If you’re a fan of symmetry, you’re going to love this.

Nieves hit his first career grand slam off Peavy to lead the Padres to a 6-4 win over the Giants. The big blast came in the 4th inning of a game the Giants were leading 2-nothing, and it was set up in a bit of a convoluted manner. Matt Kemp singled, Justin Upton walked, Yonder Alonso flew out, Will Middlebrooks hit a bloop single to center, and Alexi Amarista struck out.

All that brought up Nieves, who hammered a 1-1 pitch in to the left field seats just in front of the Western Metal Supply building. It was the 10th home run of Nieves’ career, and it came in his 1153rd at-bat.

After that, the Giants and Padres traded runs. San Francisco got one in the top of the 6th inning on a Gregor Blanco RBI triple … San Diego answered with a an Alexi Amarista RBI triple in the bottom half. The Giants scored on a Buster Posey solo homer in the top of the 7th. The Padres responded with a Will Venable solo shot in the bottom half.

It helped give Padres starter Tyson Ross his first win of the season. Ross did not have his best stuff but worked around it, throwing 6.0 innings, allowing three runs and striking out eight.

There was a nice moment in the top of the 7th inning. Left-handed pitcher Chris Rearick made his MLB debut and got Giants first baseman Brandon Belt to strike out swinging. Rearick then got to sit down and watch a pair of veterans go to work.

Joaquin Benoit threw a perfect 8th inning and Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless 9th inning to get his second save of the season.

The win gives the Padres a 3-1 series win over the Giants and at 4-3, puts them over .500 for the first time this season. Their home stand continues on Monday when the Diamondbacks come in for a 3-game set.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Light Up World Series MVP]]> Sat, 11 Apr 2015 20:54:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/469394166.jpg

Through the first 21 innings of baseball at Petco Park this season, the Padres and Giants combined to score two runs. The Padres had gone 22 consecutive innings before getting one run in the 8th of Friday night’s 1-0 win.

It didn’t take them long to double down on that offensive output on Saturday night. Or to quintuple down, as it were. Or, whatever the word for ten times something is.

The Padres scored twice in the first inning and three more times in the third inning against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner en route to a 10-2 win in front of 42,823 fans in the East Village, the second sellout crowd already this season.

It was the kind of offensive output the Padres had been expecting after their off-season makeover. The fact it came against Bumgarner is a bit surprising. After getting the first two batters of the game, the Giants lefty gave up four straight 2-out hits. Matt Kemp doubled, Justin Upton singled him home, Derek Norris beat out an infield single, and Will Middlebrooks singled to score Upton.

In the third, things got out of hand for the Giants, partially because the Padres used some fantastic base running. Yangervis Solarte and Justin Upton singled. Then Norris hit a liner up the middle to score Solarte and took second when the throw was not cut off. Then Middlebrooks singled to center again to score Upton and took second when Angel Pagan decided to overthrow the cutoff man. Finally, Jedd Gyorko hit a missile to left to bring in Norris and make it a 5-0 ballgame.

The final line for Bumgarner: 3.0 IP, 10 hits, 5 runs, 4 K, 80 pitches. It’s his shortest start since June 21, 2011, when he allowed eight runs and only got one out against the Twins.

Fittingly, it was James Shields on the mound for the Padres. In the 2014 World Series, Shields lost games 1 and 5 to Bumgarner. This is not going to be any measure of redemption, but it still had to be a little more satisfying than your garden variety win.

Shields threw 7.0 innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven to get his first win in a Padres uniform. In his first two starts he faced the reigning MVP (Clayton Kershaw) and the reigning World Series MVP (Bumgarner) and had better numbers than both of them.

Shields also got his first base hit, part of a 3-run 6th inning. Every member of the Padres starting lineup had at least one hit in the game.

The Padres even their record at 3-3. They can get over .500 for the first time and take three of four in the series on Sunday when Tyson Ross goes against former Padres Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, who will be making his first start of the season for the Giants.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Finally Score, Win At Home]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 21:49:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/469273020.jpg

If it’s not too late for a marketing slogan on the 2015 Padres season, they might want to consider this:

Year of the Double Play.

Unless the first two home games of the season are an aberration, it’s looking like there will be a whole lot of twin killings at Petco Park this year. After producing seven of them in the home opener on Thursday night, the Padres and Giants had six more, including the final two outs of the game, in home game #2.

This time, though, the Padres were the ones who scored just enough to get a win.

The Friars beat the Giants 1-0 on Friday night at Petco Park. San Diego scored its only run in the 8th inning when Wil Myers smacked a double to right to score Clint Barmes from first. It was the first run at Petco Park this season for the Padres, and it only took them 20 innings to get it.

Not to be lost in the offensive ineptitude is the start Brandon Morrow made in his Padres debut. Morrow went 7.0 shutout innings, allowing four hits, striking out seven and walking three, and he did it with just 88 pitches. He is not your typical 5th starter.

Problem is, neither is Tim Lincecum, especially not when he’s throwing at Petco Park. The Giants right-hander brought a 9-3 career record (plus a no-hitter) in to the game and matched Morrow with 7.0 shutout innings.

Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th to record his first save as a Padre. He’s made three appearances, but this was the first one in a save situation.

So, the Padres and Giants have played two games and scored a total of two runs. On Saturday night, don’t expect the offenses to suddenly show up. James Shields and Madison Bumgarner will face each other again. You may recall Bumgarner beat Shields twice in the 2014 World Series.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Suffer First Major Injury Of 2015]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 19:28:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/469080726.jpg

Aside from backup catcher Tim Federowicz suffering a knee injury, the Padres got through Spring Training more healthy than they have in years. But they couldn't make it one trip through the starting rotation without having a setback.

Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy is headed to the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain. Kennedy hurt the hammy in the second inning of Thursday night's extra-innings loss to the Giants. Padres manager Bud Black said Friday he does not expect Kennedy to miss more than two starts.

Odrisamer Despaigne will move in to the rotation in Kennedy's place. Left-handed pitcher Chris Rearick was called up from Triple-A El Paso to fill the roster spot. But, those were not the only move the Padres made.

Relief pitcher and Ramona native Nick Vincent got optioned El Paso. Vincent took the loss due to an unearned run in the 12th inning of the Padres' 1-0 loss in Thursday's home opener, but that's not why he's being optioned. The bullpen has been used a lot already, especially after Kennedy only went two innings and the game went 12 on Thursday.

Vincent threw two innings and has been in three of the first four games so he needed a rest anyway and draws the short straw. Brandon Maurer, one of the many off-season additions for the Padres, joins the team in his stead. Maurer brings a mid-90's fastball and power slider to the Padres bullpen.

In one final roster transaction, the Padres transferred LHP Cory Luebke from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list as he continues his recovery from a second elbow reconstruction surgery.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres vs. Giants: Trash Talking Gets Serious]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 01:11:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/179*120/468883224.jpg

I'll warn you right off the bat, this video has a naughty word in it.

In the 9th inning of Thursday night's game at Petco Park, Padres catcher Derek Norris and Giants outfielder Angel Pagan got in to a bit of a spat at home plate. It was heated enough for the home plate umpire to issue a warning to both benches to knock it off.

Pagan threw a piece of chewed up gum at Norris, but says it was an accident. It did not look like any accident. Norris stood up for himself, the altercation ensued, and on the very next pitch Padres closer Craig Kimbrel buzzed a 97-MPH fastball up under Pagan's chin.

NBC 7's Derek Togerson asked Norris what was said, and Kimbrel if the brushback pitch was intentional. One thing is certain, these new Padres will not back down from anybody, especially not the reigning World Series champions.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Home Opener Ends In Disappointing Fashion]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 21:28:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/469074924.jpg

Whenever the Padres and Giants get together at Petco Park, there’s going to be a big crowd. This was the first time in recent memory it was hard to hear the San Francisco fans.

A sellout crowd of 45,150 people stuffed the Padres' jewel of a downtown ballpark to see the new-look Friars play the defending World Series champions in San Diego’s home opener, and what transpired was one of the most exciting low-scoring games you’ll see, although it ended with a sour taste for the home crowd.

The Giants got the only run of the game in the 12th inning to win 1-0.

Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy had to leave in the 3rd inning with a left hamstring injury. Kennedy delivered a pitch in the third inning and immediately called the training staff out to the mound. Ian might not be back for a while.

"This could be a possible disabled list (trip)," said Padres manager Bud Black. "It's a mild hamstring strain, and those are tricky."

Kennedy says he felt completely healthy coming out of Spring Training but first felt the hamstring grab when he struck out Juan Arias in the second inning. He tried to loosen it up before going out for the third, but it wasn't meant to be.

"It was almost like a cramp feeling," said Kennedy. "I've never had a pulled hammy or anything before."

Leaving the fourth game of the season was the prudent course of action.

"I'm not going to hurt my arm," said Kennedy, "trying to change my mechanics. It's still pretty tight right now so we'll see how I feel tomorrow."

If Kennedy's evaluation on Friday does, indeed, put him on the DL, the man who replaced him in the game will also replace him in the starting rotation.

"I'll say it on record: if Ian doesn't make that start (next Tuesday the 14th against the Diamondbacks at home), Despaigne will."

Odrisamer Despaigne, who was a starter for Spring Training and is used to a heavy workload, came in and threw a great game, going 4.2 innings without allowing a run.

But, the Padres could not get anything going offensively against Giants starter Tim Hudson and the San Francisco bullpen. Padres hitters grounded in to four inning-ending double plays, two of them by second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

In the top of the 9th inning, Padres manager Bud Black called on closer Craig Kimbrel to make his Petco Park debut. It didn’t take him long to ingratiate himself to Padres fans. Giants outfielder Angel Pagan led off and got in a heated jawing session with Padres catcher Derek Norris. On the very next pitch, Kimbrel ran a 98-MPH fastball up under Pagan’s chin.

It was a clear sign to the Giants, and the rest of the National League West: These are not the old Padres you used to kick around anymore.

Pagan would triple, then Buster Posey walked. But, Kimbrel got a pop up and a double play ball to get out of the inning with no harm done and walked off the field celebrating while looking in to the Giants’ dugout.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Wil Myers reached on an error and Derek Norris singled to left. So, up came Matt Kemp in the precise situation the Padres got him for … runner in scoring position, one out, chance to win a ballgame.

Kemp hit a bullet that McGehee got a glove on to save a run and even got an out at second. So, with runners at the corners and two outs, up came Justin Upton in the precise situation the Padres got him for. Upton popped out to right field. So, off to the 11th inning we went!

Then to the 12th inning we went!

Then one of the Padres’ major concerns burned them. With the addition of all the offense, the outfield defense seemed like it was going to suffer. In the top of the 12th, Nick Vincent got Brandon Crawford to pop up to shallow left. Justin Upton and Clint Barmes couldn’t get together, the ball fell in for a 2-base error, and it was the opening the Giants needed.

Crawford scored on a 2-out single by Justin Maxwell and the Padres went in order to finish a 1-0 San Francisco win. But, not without a few more theatrics. Will Venable was called out a check-swing by the home plate umpire and voiced his displeasure with the call. That got Venable a quick ejection.

Black came out to plead his case and was also tossed. So, was it frustration from 12 shutout innings that led to the hook?

"No," said Black, "that's probably vocabulary more than anything."

The Padres try to get their first home win of the year on Friday night when RHP Brandon Morrow makes his San Diego debut.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Offer Baseball's Cheapest Tickets]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:04:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/469074284.jpg

San Diego is one of the most expensive communities in the nation. But, America’s Finest City is home to America’s Finest value when it comes to watching a baseball game.

The annual Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index is out for 2015. San Diego has the cheapest average ticket at $16.37, which is flat this season after a small increase in 2014. It’s interesting that a team that made so many moves in the off-season and generated an immense amount of buzz would not start charging more for admission.

The Kansas City Royals, fresh off their World Series run, increased ticket prices this year by 20.3 percent, up to $29.76. Across Major League Baseball, tickets increased by 3.3 percent to $28.94 for the 2015 season.

The Padres also rank among the league’s cheapest ballpark experiences according to The Fan Cost Index (FCI). That’s the average price to take a family of four to a game, including four non-premium season tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking and two adult-size hats.

San Diego is the 2nd-best value in baseball on that list, totaling $153.45 for a family of four to see a game. Only the Diamondbacks, who have the lowest concessions prices in the league, come in cheaper.

The MLB average is $211.68, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

No surprise to see the Boston Red Sox come in with the highest average ticket price and FCI. Recent success, a rabid fan base and an iconic stadium allow them to do that on an almost yearly basis. You can see the full FCI chart for all 30 MLB teams here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Padres Take Steve Poltz Out to the Ballgame]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 15:21:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Rugburns-6443.jpg

Local singer/songwriter Steve Poltz kinda has a thing for the San Diego Padres.

Known for his lifelong love of the team, the musician -- perhaps most famous for penning the mega-hit "You Were Meant For Me" with Jewel in 1996 (in addition to countless other gems in his own stellar solo catalog, and with his band, the Rugburns) -- wrote a touching tribute to Tony Gwynn titled "Hey Hey Number 19," after the legendary Padre passed away last year. [Read the SoundDiego article here]

And on July 21, before the Padres play the San Francisco Padres at Petco Park, Poltz (who was awarded "San Diego's Most Influential Artist of the Decade" at the 2000 San Diego Music Awards) will have yet another chance to bring his talents to the stadium. He'll be singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the game -- and let's just say this ain't his first jog around the bases.

"I try to sing it every year but I missed last year," Poltz said. "My tour schedule was too hectic. So this year I made sure I'd be able to do it. I locked in a date with my booking agent a couple months ago and made sure he blocked out that day. That way it would be set in stone and nothing could stop me from seeing my beloved Padres."

For some of us, just the sheer thought of singing such a difficult song for a huge hometown crowd -- and on such a massive scale -- is enough to provoke instant panic attacks. How does Poltz cope with the pressure?

"Every time I sing it at Petco, I have bad dreams the night before," Poltz told us. "The dreams usually involve me forgetting the words and 40,000 people booing me. I'm usually pretty nervous the morning of the anthem. When it comes time to sing, it seems like it only takes 10 seconds. I usually put earplugs in so I don't hear the echo. Otherwise, if you start listening to the echo, you're screwed."

Even though he's been a diehard Padres fan his whole life, he's particularly excited about this year's team. Well, perhaps 'cautiously optimistic' is a better way to phrase it.

"It's nice to go into a new season knowing the team has a lot more weapons at their disposal. I love all the moves [General Manager] A.J. Preller has made. But you never really know until the season gets underway. They still have to play 162 games and then hopefully more."

So, on July 21, sure to cheer on one of San Diego's finest songwriters as he does his best rendition of our national anthem for the home crowd in late July. With any luck, it'll rival one of his most cherished moments.

"My favorite Padres memory was back at Qualcomm Stadium in 1998," Poltz explained. "I got to sing the national anthem. The Padres beat the Braves in game three of the National League Championship Series. The place was loud and raucous. Trevor Hoffman got the save and when they played 'Hells Bells,' it was insane. Everyone was on their feet singing along. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. The Padres went on to win the NLCS in six games and advance to the World Series ... but we won't talk about that."

Dustin Lothspeich plays in Old Tiger, Diamond Lakes and Boy King. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.



Photo Credit: Marissa Carter]]>
<![CDATA[Cost of a Baseball Game: By the Numbers]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 14:39:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Petco+Park+Opening+Day+2014.jpg

Baseball season is upon us, but taking the family to a ball game doesn’t come cheap, according to a new report.

Analysts at Team Marketing report that it costs, on average, $211.68 to take a group of four fans to a baseball game in the U.S. in 2015. This total tab includes four tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking and two hats.

The report shows that total is up 2.5 percent from last year’s report.

In San Diego, the prices are a bit lower. According to the report, the cost of attending a San Diego Padres game with a group of four this year is $153.45, factoring in all of the aforementioned items.

Here’s the local breakdown of your ballgame bill:

• Average price of a ticket: $16.37
• Average premium ticket: $41.18
• Average price of a beer: $5
• Average price of a soft drink: $4
• Average price of a hot dog: $5
• Average price of parking: $8
• Average price of a baseball cap: $18.99

The report shows that attending a San Diego Padres game is almost the cheapest package in the MLB. An Arizona Diamondbacks game was the cheapest on the list, costing an average of $126.89 for four people.

The most expensive teams to watch live at the ballpark were, in order: the Boston Red Sox ($350.86); the New York Yankees ($337.20); the Chicago Cubs ($300.73); the Philadelphia Phillies ($252.18); and the San Francisco Giants ($241.13).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Home Opener 2015 Details]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:44:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Petco-Park-Jumbotron-2015.jpg

The San Diego Padres Home Opener against the San Francisco Giants starts at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. Here’s everything you need to know about the sold-out ballgame.

For starters, the Padres say right-handed pitcher Ian Kennedy is set to take the mound before the crowd. Every fan in attendance will receive a free Padres fedora presented by Sycuan.

The pre-game ceremony will include the unveiling of Petco Park’s newest addition, the National League’s largest video board. After the game, fans can enjoy the video board in all its glory with a 10-minute post-game video produced by Padres Productions and SONY.

The U.S. Navy parachute team – known as the Leap Frogs – will also perform an aerial demonstration for fans. The unfurling of the Holiday Bowl Big Flag is also on the agenda and will be held by 300 sailors from Navy Region Southwest, United States Third Fleet, Naval Air Forces, Naval Surface Forces, Naval Special Warfare and Submarine Squadron 11.

The team said recording artist Ashleigh Stone will sing the National Anthem at Opening Day. Stone’s Anthem will be followed by a flyover by two Harriers from the VMA-311 Tomcats from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Yuma, Ariz. In addition, San Diego native Caroline Corn will perform “God Bless America” before the 7th inning stretch.

The Ceremonial First Pitch will be thrown by local sports icons including Padres Hall of Famer and 1976 Cy Young Winner Randy Jones, former San Diego Chargers Center Nick Hardwick, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, one of the world’s greatest surfers, Rob Machado and San Diego State Aztecs basketball forward J.J. O’Brien.

Fans are advised to be in their seat by 3 p.m. so they can catch all of the fun of the pre-game ceremony.

Park in the Park – the grassy hangout inside the stadium – will host Happy Hour starting at 5 p.m. featuring food and drink specials, plus entertainment.

New security measures are in place at the ballpark this season, including walk-through metal detectors installed at all Petco Park entry gates and access points. All fans will be screened as they enter the park.

Fans are advised to use public transit when visiting Petco Park. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) will offer additional "Special Event" trolley service from Qualcomm Stadium and Mission Valley stations to the ballpark area. All three Trolley Lines offer direct service to Petco Park and increased service following the game.

The North County Transit District (NCTD) will offer extra Coaster service with trains departing from Oceanside Station at 11:05 a.m., 1:51 p.m. and 2:32 p.m.

Though Opening Day is sold out, limited tickets are still available for the three remaining weekend games in the Opening Series. Tickets can be purchased here.

On Sunday, the Padres will honor military service members with Military Opening Day. Sunday will also bring KidsFest at the Park, a kid-friendly event boasting bounce houses, inflatable games, balloon artists, face painters and other family-friendly activities.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Where to Eat at Petco Park]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 12:24:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Petco-Park-Food-2015-1.jpg

Major League Baseball season sure makes a fan hungry. In San Diego, fans can root for the Padres while snacking on many scrumptious concessions at Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

For the 2015 season, fans can enjoy everything from traditional peanuts and Cracker Jacks to fish tacos fit for America’s Finest City.

This year, new stadium eateries include Pizza Port, The Patio, Swell Coffee Roasting Co. and a Deep Eddy Vodka “Hideaway” – a seating area and vodka bar tucked in left field corner terrace.

Several concession stands at the ballpark – including Friar Franks, Diego Dogs and K Street Grill – will offer your traditional hot dogs, nachos and pretzels.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto at Field Level 102 and Field Level 206 serves fish tacos, fried shrimp and calamari, among other seafood. The Food Network Cart (Field Level 121) offers a blue cheese steak sandwich and a chipotle lime steak sandwich.

Meanwhile, The Pier/El Pueblo at Field Level 222 is a Mexican cantina offering south-of-the-border specialties. Mexican food (think quintessential San Diego burritos) is also available at Lucha Libre
(Field Level 215) and Padres Mexican Café (Field Level 319).

For BBQ at the ballpark, try Randy Jones BBQ at Field Level 213 or Phil’s BBQ at Field Level 113. For delicious, juicy hamburgers, head over to Hodad’s at Field Level 203.

Fans with a sweet tooth can get their fix at lots of sweet spots scattered throughout the stadium. This includes Suh-wheet (Field Level 206), Sweet Spot (Field Level 328), Rita’s Italian Ice (multiple stands throughout the park) and the Baked Bear (Field Level 123), specializing in gourmet ice cream sandwiches.

To warm up during the breezier night games, Ryan Bros. Coffee stands offer coffee, tea and other specialty drinks.

The 21+ fans can quench their thirst at one of the many wine, beer and spirits stands throughout the stadium. This includes El Agave Mission Tequila Bar (Field Level 119 and 122), Wines at the Park (Field Level 104), Craft Beers of San Diego (Field Level 119 and 213), Ballast Point Beer Garden (Field Level 103) or Stone World Bistro (Field Level 309), among many, many options.

Fans looking for healthier snacks have some options as well, including wraps, salads and fruit available at Friar Fit (Field Level 101), plus gluten-free hot dogs, burgers and pretzels available at the Gluten-Free Stand (Field Level 104).

Needless to say, fans will not go hungry at the ballpark this season. So, eat your hearts out, Padres fans. And pass the nachos.

What’s your favorite Petco Park snack? Comment in the section below. For a full list of Petco Park concessions, click here.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat Padres 7-4 in LA]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 23:05:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/468969940.jpg

Padres came out on fire but lost against the Dodgers on Wednesday night 7-4.

Matt Kemp continues to crush the pearl against his former team, lining a single to center field and finishing the game 2 for 5.

Justin Upton hit a two-run homerun into the leftfield bullpen -- his first of the season -- to lead 2-0 early.

But the Padres' lead evaporated quickly when former Padre and Eastlake product Adrian Gonzales hit his third homerun of the series for a solo shot to cut the San Diego lead in half at 2-1.

Padres then gave up three runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Gonzalez hit two more homeruns to complete the trifecta, aka hat trick, with three homeruns on the night he went 4 for 4 with 4 RBIs.

Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner went five innings allowing five runs. Gonzalez is the first player in Major League history to hit five homeruns in the first three games of the season.

San Diego now 1-2 on the season, with the season home opener on Thursday, April 9 against the defending World Series Champion and National League West foe San Francisco Giants first pitch scheduled for 3:40pm.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Get to Know Padres Closer Craig Kimbrel]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 21:27:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Craig_Kimbrel_2_1200x675_423965763893.jpg There are some good things to come of the Padres 6-3 Opening Day loss to the Dodgers. One is, they got to meet their new closer. After finding out on Sunday that he’d been traded to the Padres, All-Star Craig Kimbrel got stuck in traffic in South Florida, had trouble getting a flight, had to get to the airport early Monday morning to fly to LAX, and barely made it to Dodger Stadium in time for first pitch. NBC7’s Derek Togerson tracked down Kimbrel in the clubhouse to see what the last 24 hours have been like for him, and how he’s trying to fit in with his new teammates.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Drop Season Opener to Dodgers]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 18:16:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/468758614.jpg

Things were going to smoothly. Until they weren’t.

The Padres lost to the Dodgers 6-3 on Monday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, and they did it in a way that was quite unexpected. San Diego roughed up 2-time reining Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (yes, three runs allowed in 6.0 innings counts as getting roughed up for a guy who was the 2014 N.L. MVP, the first National League pitcher to win the award since 1968), then saw their normally reliable bullpen let the lead get away.

The Padres threw their own new ace, James Shields, on the mound, and he was just a tick better than Kershaw. The final pitching lines for both players:

Kershaw = 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BB, 8 K
Shields = 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BB, 8 K

Kind of creepy, huh?

All three of the Padres runs were driven in by Matt Kemp, who played his first game in a Padres uniform against the team he 567 games for. Before his first at-bat, an RBI single in the first inning to score Wil Myers, Kemp was given a standing ovation from the Dodger Stadium crowd. He stepped back and tipped his fat to the crowd, and his former mate Kershaw gave him the time to soak it all in.

“Kershaw is a very respectful person,” said Kemp. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I feel like he has a lot of respect for me. I think he saw the crowd’s reaction and kind of stepped back and let it play out, then got in and we went at it.”

Kemp and Shields, the two biggest off-season additions by general manager A.J. Preller, both had big games. After Nick Vincent allowed a run to score on back-to-back doubles by Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick, and lefty Frank Garces walked Scott Van Slyke on four pitches, tt was Shawn Kelley who needed just one pitch to retire Juan Uribe on a grounder to end the 7th. The relief pitcher who came over in a trade with the Yankees went back out for the 8th inning, and that’s where the troubles came.

Kelley walked Joc Pederson to lead off the 8th inning, and things simply unraveled after that. After a popped up bunt, Kelley got Andre Ethier to hit a ground ball to first base. Yonder Alonso could not field it cleanly to get a double play, and when he flipped to Kelley covering first base Shawn’s feet could not find the bag.

That put two runners on for Jimmy Rollins, who fell behind 0-2, but then being the veteran hitter that he is, fouled off several pitches and ran the count to 3-2. That’s when Kelley and catcher Derek Norris had a chat. On the next pitch, Rollins crushed a 3-run home run that proved to be the game-winner.

“He gets very scrappy,” said Kelley of the 2007 N.L. MVP, a man who can be quite difficult to strike out. “I tried to stick with the slider in the dirt and get him to chase and, being a veteran guy, he didn’t take it. I tried to get a little sneaky with a heater in because he’d seen a bunch of sliders and he was ready for it.”

It does beg the question, in the 8th inning of a tied game when the guy on the mound obviously does not have his best stuff, why did Padres manager Bud Black decide to leave him in the game instead of going to 8th inning specialist Joaquin Benoit? Black’s explanation makes a lot of sense.

“(Dale) Thayer was down today,” said Black. “Stomach flu, he wasn’t going to pitch. If Benoit gets out of it, you’re asking him to go one-plus (innings) which we’re trying to stay away from. If we don’t score, he goes back out, if we don’t score again, we probably have to go somewhere else. It’s a tough situation to go to your bullpen five or six times and use five guys the opening game of the season. That’s sort of a bad precedent moving forward.”

The Padres don’t get an easy task in game two of the series, either. They have to face former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke on Tuesday night. But, they throw All-Star Tyson Ross against him. So, odds are game two of the season-opening series will be a dogfight, just like the opener.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MLB 2015 Season Predictions]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 07:51:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Petco+Park+Opening+Day+2014.jpg

OK folks … Prediction time.

The 2015 MLB season is upon us, and I’m a baseball guy, so after looking long and hard at the landscape of the game, here are my picks for division winners and post-season awards. Feel free to start a debate on just how insane (or correct) you think I am!

NL West

1)    Padres
2)    Dodgers (Wild Card)
3)    Giants
4)    Rockies
5)    Diamondbacks

Yes, I did it! I let my homerism come out just a shade here, but this year it’s not entirely unreasonable. The Padres have undergone the single greatest off-season transformation in sports history. Well, the best one for the better. There have been plenty of good teams that went bad (1999 Padres, anyone?) but never an improvement like this outside of maybe the L.A. Kings adding Wayne Gretzky. Plus, I just don’t think the Dodgers are going to be as good as everybody else does, and the Giants are missing too much offense and have too many question marks in the starting rotation.

NL Central

1)    Cardinals
2)    Pirates (Wild Card)
3)    Cubs
4)    Reds
5)    Brewers

Until somebody knocks off the Cardinals, who always seem to find a way to be competitive, they’ll be the favorites. Pittsburgh continues to be good enough to reach the post-season, but not to overcome St. Louis. The Cubs are going to bludgeon some folks to death with their offense, but after Jon Lester they have nowhere near the pitching depth to contend yet.

NL East

1)    Nationals
2)    Marlins
3)    Mets
4)    Phillies
5)    Braves

Washington is loaded, and not just in the starting rotation, which could be historically good. They’re the favorites to win the whole thing, although second-year manager Matt Williams is still an unknown commodity. He was handily outplayed by Bruce Bochy in the playoffs last year (then again, who isn’t these days?). The Marlins are getting close and certainly in contention for a Wild Card spot.

AL West

1)    Los Angeles
2)    Seattle (Wild Card)
3)    Oakland
4)    Houston
5)    Texas

The Angels and Mariners are 1 and 1A in this division, which should be the tightest race of any division. I give only a slight edge to the guys in Anaheim because of Mike Trout. The A’s will be pesky, as they always are, but this is the season the constant tinkering (and trade of Josh Donaldson) finally catch up to them.

AL Central

1)    Indians
2)    Royals
3)    Tigers
4)    White Sox
5)    Twins

Not a lot of people realize how good Cleveland is. Terry Francona has one of the most balanced clubs in baseball and a certified ace in reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. The Royals take a step back, mostly due to the loss of James Shields, who really set the tone for that clubhouse and will be sorely missed. The Tigers keep getting older without reinforcements showing up and as good as David Price will be at Comerica Park, they don’t have the horses to run with the Indians this season.

AL East

1)    Red Sox
2)    Blue Jays (Wild Card)
3)    Orioles
4)    Yankees
5)    Rays

Boston re-loaded again, especially on offense with Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval on board. But right behind them are the Blue Jays, who have been close in recent years and finally take that next step to playoff participant this season. Baltimore just doesn’t have the pitching to keep up and simply cannot keep being as good in 1-run games as they’ve been recently. Bad luck finally catches up to them.

Playoffs

National League Wild Card: Dodgers beat the Pirates
American League Wild Card: Mariners beat the Blue Jays

NLDS: Nationals beat the Dodgers, Padres beat the Cardinals
ALDS: Indians beat the Mariners, Angels beat the Red Sox

NLCS: Nationals beat the Padres
ALCS: Indians beat the Angels

WORLD SERIES: Nationals beat the Indians

Awards

NL MVP: Matt Kemp (He’s healthy, motivated, and will get a lot of the credit for San Diego’s turnaround)
AL MVP: Mike Trout (Duh)

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (Duh, part 2)
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Stuff is still there and now he has help)

NL Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant (He might his 40 HR. Seriously)
AL Rookie of the Year: Daniel Norris (Went 12-2 with a 4-1 K-BB ratio over 3 minor league levels in 2014)

NL Manager of the Year: Bud Black (2010 winner gets his best roster yet)
AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona (Tito takes another team to the Fall Classic)

That pretty much covers it. So, ladies and gentlemen … Play Ball!



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How Padres Can Win NL West]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 11:56:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Matt+Kemp+Padres+Spring+Training+2015.jpg

Up until Sunday afternoon at around 4:30, right on the eve of the 2015 Opening Day, I was going to say the ceiling for the Padres this year is winning a Wild Card spot and, with the depth of their starting pitching, having a legitimate chance of reaching the National League Division Series.

Then Obi-Wan Preller had to go and swing a deal to bring 4-time All Star Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego bullpen and change that perception completely.

In 2014 the Padres had one of the top three bullpens in baseball, even after they traded All-Star closer Huston Street to the Angels. That ‘pen got even better this off-season and was arguably the best group in the National League. Adding the man who’s led the N.L. in saves for the last four years puts it WAY over the top.

A guy like Kimbrel, who strikes out 14.8 hitters per 9 innings, is the perfect insurance against a team that projects to have a shaky defense (we’ll get to that in a minute). Kimbrel also adds a mental aspect to the game. Opposing teams know, with that guy lurking in the bullpen, they really only have eight innings to score their runs. If they’re behind after that, just call it a loss.

That’s the kind of impact Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera had. Yes, Kimbrel is just that good. And that’s why I think the Padres, now, can legitimately contend for the National League West Division championship.

Let’s go position-by-position and break this thing down, starting with the one we’ve already talked about.

BULLPEN

Like I said, easily the best in the National League and now challenging the Royals for the best in baseball. In 2014, the Padres were 33-21 in 1-run games and 10-5 in extra innings. If a game is close, the advantage goes directly to San Diego.

If most people (including myself) think the Dodgers are still the team to beat in the NL West, this is the area where the Padres will have the biggest impact. Los Angeles was 25-20 in 1-run games and 6-12 in extra innings a year ago, and they won’t have injured closer Kenley Jansen for at least a month (I know the Giants are the reigning World Series champions but with no Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence out for about the first month with a broken forearm, uncertain health of Matt Cain’s elbow, and the fact it’s an even-numbered year, we’ll leave them out of this discussion for now).

Advantage: Padres

STARTING PITCHING

The Padres have arguable the deepest rotation any place outside of Washington, DC. James Shields is a certified workhorse. You can pencil him in for 200 innings and 15-18 wins every year. Tyson Ross, and All-Star in 2014 who a few people have told me has the best pure stuff on the team, is blossoming in to a front-of-the-rotation starter before our eyes. Andrew Cashner was last year’s Opening Night starter and has ace kind of stuff, and he’s the number 3 guy. Ian Kennedy has his confidence back and looks a lot like the guy who won 21 games in Arizona just a few years back. Brandon Morrow has shown signs of being a top-3 starter but injuries have held him back. Now healthy, he should win a lot of games running up against the cannon fodder most teams throw out at the back end of a rotation.

However, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu (who will start the season on the DL with a shoulder issue that is not expected to linger) at the top of their rotation. Kershaw is the best starter in the universe and Greinke is not far behind. Ryu is well above-average. Los Angeles does not have the depth in its rotation that the Padres do, but with their top-2 it doesn’t matter as much as it would to other teams.

Advantage: Dodgers

INFIELD

This is the great unknown for the Padres. First baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jedd Gyorko and third baseman Will Middlebrooks have shown flashes of being consistent 15-20 home run guys and slightly above-average defenders. They’ve also shown flashes of being easily injured and ineffective both offensively and defensively. Shortstop Alexi Amarista is not a natural shortstop, although he did show at the end of last year he’s not overwhelmed by the position. Amarista turns 26 years old on Opening Day, so he’s still figuring out the Big League game and could have one of those, “A-HA!” seasons where he plays well above his career average. But don’t count on it. If all these guys stay healthy and play to their potential, the Padres infield is playoff-caliber, yes even on defense, where they might not have fantastic range but they also don’t make many mistakes. If not, it’s a liability. Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes and Cory Spangenberg provide quality depth off the bench.

The Dodgers have a rock at first in Adrian Gonzalez. He’ll give you Gold Glove-caliber defense and drive in 100 runs every season. They traded away rising star Dee Gordon for the more established but less explosive Howie Kendrick, which is a slight downgrade on defense and takes away one of the few prototypical leadoff hitters in the game. On the left side of the infield, the Dodgers let Hanley Ramirez walk away and added shortstop Jimmy Rollins and still have Juan Uribe, a guy who always seems to swing the bat well against the Padres, is again the third baseman. Even if Rollins and Uribe finally let Father Time start to catch up to them, this is the superior group.

Advantage: Dodgers.

OUTFIELD

Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp are going to drive in A LOT of runs. A lot more runs than the 2014 Padres outfield did, at least. In 2014, Padres outfielders drove in 175 runs total, and that’s if we add all of Tommy Medica’s RBI (even though most of them came while he was playing 1st base). Upton, Kemp and Myers combined for 226 RBI, and Myers missed half the season with wrist injuries. A lot has been made about the group’s defensive metrics. Upton is never going to win a Gold Glove and is probably the worst of the bunch. Kemp had below-average defensive numbers last year, but that was playing in centerfield. He’s much more suited to a corner spot and should see his defense improve dramatically. Myers played a lot of center in the minors and at the age of 24 is still learning to play the position. He showed more than enough athletic ability in the Cactus League to be a solid defender. Melvin Upton and Will Venable are not consistent offensive threats but are both good defenders off the bench.

The Dodgers will run out Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig with Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke off the bench. Crawford only played 105 games a year ago and has been slowed by injuries. Pederson is a tremendous prospect who just tore up the Cactus League at the age of 22 but has never played a full MLB season and is a bit of an unknown at this point. Puig is insanely talented but you just know about a dozen mental lapses every year are looming. Ethier is a good bat off the bench but is not happy he’s not starting and may not be in L.A. for the entire season. Van Slyke is a solid 5th outfielder who’s not going to be a liability.

Advantage: Padres (but not by much)

COACHING STAFF

Remember those close and extra-inning game numbers from the bullpen section? A lot of that falls on the manager. Don Mattingly is not a very good in-game manager. He has not shown a great ability to handle his relievers or effectively use the double-switch. Bud Black has shown a good understanding of how to use his pieces and now that he has the kinds of players who deserve to be in the same spot in the lineup every day he won’t be tinkering, desperately looking for decent matchups for his overwhelmed offense.

Rick Honeycutt is a good pitching coach. Darren Balsley is the best pitching coach in baseball (even Greg Maddux will tell you that). Mark McGwire has had good success as a hitting coach. Mark Kotsay is in his first year in that role.

Advantage: Padres

See? When you break it down piece by piece you see the Padres could very well win this thing. Not so much because they’re going to make massive strides (which they are, but asking for 90 wins might be a little much) as because the Dodgers seem to be coming back to the pack a bit.

Again, there are an awful lot of variables in play, with health being on top of the list. But, with Ryu and Jansen on the shelf for a while and the Padres mostly healthy, it might take a while for them to hit their stride. If the Padres can avoid their typical slow start and put a little cushion between themselves and their rivals to the north, they’ll be in a position to withstand the mid-season charge the Dodgers typically put together.

And then? Well, then we’ll have ourselves a good, old-fashioned pennant race on our hands.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Opening Day: Clayton Kershaw Scouting Report]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 09:36:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/456809178.jpg

For the Padres, the 2015 season will not get any harder than Opening Day. Well, not until the next time they face the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw is on the mound.

The Dodgers ace is the the best pitcher in baseball, and it's not all that close. However, the Padres have a little bit of a secret weapon this year.

Outfielder Matt Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz spent plenty of time in L.A. with Kershaw. They can offer some pretty good insight on how to attack the 3-time Cy Young Award winner.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres' Preller Deals From Position Of Strength]]> Sun, 05 Apr 2015 14:55:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/AJ+Preller+Padres+GM.jpg

As we get close to three hours past the deadline for MLB teams to set their 2015 Opening Day rosters, I thought about something A.J. Preller said on Saturday about the last-minute decisions the team had to make.

One comment kind of hinted at a possible trade, which would explain why things are taking so long. Preller has assembled so much talent that the Padres are now in a position where they can dictate the kinds of moves they make instead of being backed in to a corner and forced to deal (Exhibit A: the Adrian Gonzalez trade).

Listen to the last thing he says in this video clip. Instead of being the one asking for a deal, Preller has everyone else coming to him. What a nice situation to be in!

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<![CDATA[Padres Make Another Massive Trade]]> Sun, 05 Apr 2015 16:33:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/452251432.jpg

The last of the 30 MLB teams to finalize its 2015 Opening Day roster was the San Diego Padres. New general manager A.J. Preller took it right down to the noon Pacific deadline. Then he took it right on past that deadline.

Turns out Preller had something big in the works. The Padres agreed to a trade with the Braves, sending outfielders Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin, along with top pitching prospect Matt Wisler, minor league outfielder Jordan Paroubeck (selected 69th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft) and the 41st overall pick in this year’s Draft in exchange for outfielder Melvin Upton (the artist formerly known as B.J.) and All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel.

National League West, you have been put on notice: The Padres plan to win, and they plan to win right now.

Joaquin Benoit was going to be the closer for 2015, but he had a few rough outings in Spring Training, leaving a few questions as to whether or not the Padres had a true, dominant 9th inning specialist. Kimbrel is arguably the best closer in baseball.

He’s led the National League in saves the last four years and he’ll turn 27 years old next month. Kimbrel also has three years left on his contract, giving the Padres control of a player who has gone to four straight All-Star games.

Speaking of contract control, that’s likely the reason the Padres also took on Upton’s deal. B.J. is owed $46 million over the next three years. He’ll be the 4th or 5th outfielder, but more importantly, his presence could be the final factor in Justin Upton staying in San Diego.

Melvin’s little brother is in the final year of his contract. Preller said when he first made the deal with Atlanta that he did not see Upton as a one-year rental and wanted to work out another deal with the power-hitting left fielder. Having family on the team is a big feather in the Padres’ cap when negotiations start.

San Diego had a logjam in the outfield after Preller’s off-season trading bonanza that yielded Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers. The arrival of two All-Stars and the 2013 A.L. Rookie Of The Year meant one of the three holdovers had to go. Turns out Will Venable is the last man standing from the 2014 Padres outfield.

Moving Quentin and Maybin sends out about $26 million of salary over the next two years. Bringing in Upton and Kimbrel adds about $80 million over the next three years. If anyone had any doubts about whether or not the Padres new ownership group was really willing to spend money to win, this move erases them 100%.

The elder Upton will not be with the team until around May. He’s on the disabled list with a foot injury and only recently got out of a walking boot. So, the Padres will only have four outfielders on the roster for Opening Day in L.A. against the Dodgers.

To make room for Kimbrel in the bullpen, the Padres optioned right-handed pitchers Brandon Maurer and Kevin Quackenbush to Triple-A El Paso, placed left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow and right-handed pitcher Josh Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow.

That means the Padres have an extra spot in the infield, so former first round draft pick Cory Spangenberg, who can play second, short, third or left field, makes his first Opening Day roster. The Friars also solidified their backup catching spot, keeping Wil Nieves on the team to spell Derek Norris.

So, here’s the full 2015 San Diego Padres roster:

PITCHERS (12)
James Shields, RHP
Tyson Ross, RHP
Andrew Cashner, RHP
Ian Kennedy, RHP
Brandon Morrow, RHP
Craig Kimbrel, RHP
Odrisamer Despaigne, RHP
Joaquin Benoit, RHP
Shawn Kelley, RHP
Dale Thayer, RHP
Nick Vincent, RHP
Frank Garces, LHP

CATCHERS (2)
Derek Norris
Wil Nieves

INFIELDERS (7)
Yonder Alonso
Jedd Gyorko
Alexi Amarista
Will Middlebrooks
Yangervis Solarte
Clint Barmes
Cory Spangenberg

OUTFIELDERS (4)
Matt Kemp
Justin Upton
Wil Myers
Will Venable



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Roster Still In Flux]]> Sat, 04 Apr 2015 15:51:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/174*120/465614502.jpg

Most Major League Baseball teams have a pretty good idea of what their Opening Day roster is going to look like by now. The Padres are not in that group. San Diego is still legitimately grappling with who to put on the team at a few important spots.

"In an ideal world," said general manager A.J. Preller, "we'd have something more this evening. But we know we have until tomorrow at noon, so we'll see how everything stacks out here tonight and if we have to go until noon tomorrow we'll take it to the deadline."

The fact the Padres have these kinds of decisions to make is a far cry from past years. Instead of trying to decide which overachiever to bestow a roster spot upon, the Friars are trying to parse a group of legitimate big league ballplayers. It's a big difference between determining who gets to stay, and who has to go.

"This year might be a little more difficult than others," said manager Bud Black. "There are a couple of bullpen decisions, then there are a couple of position player decisions, as well, and they're all tough."

The bullpen really boils down to whether Brandon Morrow or Odrisamer Despaigne gets the 5th starter spot, and if Frank Garces did enough to earn a nod as the lone lefty on the entire pitching staff.

The position battles boil down to who earns the backup catcher spot (Wil Nieves or Rocky Gale), and what to do in the outfield, where logic says either Carlos Quentin, Will Venable or Cameron Maybin will be gone. The Padres would like to avoid flat-out cutting any of them, so sending one out in a trade would be a great idea.

On Saturday, Preller even said it's a real possibility.

"Other teams understand that we've got some depth," said Preller. "They're looking at their own situations and we've been taking calls on that. I just kind of get with the coaching staff and the front office as we get down to tonight and tomorrow and eventually make a call and set the rosters up."

One interesting situation has popped up in Oakland, where outfielder Coco Crisp suffered an elbow injury and is expected to miss at least a month and a half. The Padres and A's have been frequent trade partners over the years.

However it plays out, through a trade, a release or a minor league option, by Sunday afternoon six guys will no longer be with the big league club. The job of telling them falls on the manager. He doesn't like it, but he has a way of handling it.

"Straightforward. I think that's how you do it," said Black. "In this profession you take the conversation straightforward and honest. That's what I've always done."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Joaquin Benoit]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 19:36:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/456060408.jpg

When it comes to closers, the Padres lineage is unmatched. From Rollie Fingers to Goose Gossage to Mark Davis to Trevor Hoffman to Heath Bell to Huston Street, San Diego has not gone long stretches between sending a 9th inning specialist to the All-Star Game (of the Hall of Fame).

In 2015, Joaquin Benoit gets the gig. He's been successful in the past, closing games with the Tigers and a bit for the Padres after Street was traded last year.

Benoit has a power arm that fits the closer profile. But, what about his personality? Closers can sometimes be "unique" individuals, even by MLB clubhouse standards. NBC 7's Derek Togerson gets to know the man who should have plenty of chances to lock down games at Petco Park this season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Release FanFest 2015 Information]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 09:49:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PFF76.jpg

This Saturday’s Padres 2015 FanFest is sold out. However, even though the online registration is over and no more passes for the event are available, fans who want to get a glimpse of the new-look Friars might still have a chance to do it.

On Thursday the Padres released this information:

“For fans who did not pre-register before the event reached capacity, a limited number of Park Passes is expected to be released on site the day of the event. A standby line will be in place at the main ticket windows on Park Blvd. on April 4 for that purpose. Due to overwhelming demand for this event, re-entry will not be permitted, even for fans who pre-registered. As guests exit the ballpark, those in the standby line will be granted entry in their place.”

So, it’s not ideal, but it’s something. Plus, Park at the Park will be buzzing with activities, including the interactive “For those who Serve” Military and First Responder Zone, as well as the Sunday KidsFest setup, including bounce houses, games, obstacle courses and face painting.
 
As for the folks who already have passes to get inside, the Padres have released details of what the day has in store.

Gates open to the general public at 9:00 a.m. Padres Members receive exclusive early access beginning at 8:00 a.m. You’re going to want to get there as early as possible, because there will not be much time to do stuff.

First pitch for the exhibition game against the Mexico City Red Devils (Diablos Rojos del México) of the Mexican Baseball League is slated for 2:00 p.m. That means fans can only play catch on the field until 11:00 a.m., when everyone will be cleared out for pregame batting practice, which starts with the Red Devils at 11:30 (the Padres will hit at about 12:15).

Now, that means a lot of people in one place, trying to do things in a very short time, so parking and entry will be paramount. Free parking will be provided in Padres-owned lots around the ballpark, which are expected to fill quickly.  Guests arriving after 9 a.m. should plan to utilize public transportation or parking in paid lots near the ballpark. 
 
There will be three gates open for entry: the Home Plate Gate on Park Blvd., the Gaslamp Gate on 7th Ave. and the East Village Gate on 10th Ave. Autograph vouchers will be available at each gate, while supplies last. The first 4,500 guests will receive a voucher to participate in an autograph session. New in 2015, the players and coaches involved in each autograph session will remain a surprise until the session begins.

All 25 guys on the roster, plus coaches, Padres alumni and members of the front office are expected to participate in FanFest in some capacity.

Padres ownership will be joined by Manager Bud Black and Opening Day starting pitcher James Shields for a fan forum scheduled for 10:30 a.m., while Padres President and CEO Mike Dee and Padres EVP/General Manager A.J. Preller will be joined by 2014 All-Star Tyson Ross for a forum scheduled for 11:00 a.m. (Please note: forum participants are subject to change).

Also returning to FanFest in 2015, the Padres Foundation will host its annual Garage Sale inside the Park Blvd. gate. Fans will have the opportunity to buy Padres items, including game-used jerseys and batting helmets, with proceeds going to the Padres Foundation, so hit the ATM before heading to the ballpark.

Also, keep an eye on Twitter. Starting at 8:00 a.m., the Padres (@Padres) will start tweeting clues for a social scavenger hunt. Fans that complete the scavenger hunt can claim a #PadresFanFest prize at the Padres Social Lounge located in left field on the set of Padres Social Hour at the AMR Studio in the Padres Team Store. A “selfie station” will be set up there, and a few players are expected to make appearances.

Oh, and please remember to bring sunblock and stay hydrated. It’s going to be another fantastic Saturday in San Diego!



Photo Credit: John Audley]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Play Roster Roulette]]> Thu, 02 Apr 2015 20:06:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/466163040.jpg

The Padres won their 30th and final Cactus League game, beating the Brewers 6-5 on Thursday. Now the team is heading back to San Diego with manager Bud Black and general manager A.J. Preller mulling a unique, and not altogether unwelcome, problem they've created for themselves:

They have gathered too much talent to hold on a 25-man roster (when was the last time a Padres team could say that?).

The starting pitching rotation is stacked, but fairly easy to figure out with Brandon Morrow likely having sewn up the 5th starter spot.

The bullpen is slightly more muddled, but it’s likely that Joaquin Benoit, Odrisamer Depaigne, Nick Vincent, Brandon Maurer, Kevin Quackenbush, Shawn Kelley and Dale Thayer will make up the Magnificent Seven.

Derek Norris is the starting catcher with, barring a huge surprise at the 11th our, Wil Nieves as the backup.

The infield is where it starts to get interesting. Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Alexi Amarista, Will Middlebrooks, Yangervis Solarte and Clint Barmes have all played well enough and have the resumes to comprise the 6-man rotation.

It’s in the outfield where the real problem lies. Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers are the starting three. Since there are only two other roster spots open (unless for some inexplicable reason the team decides to go with 11 pitchers instead of 12, or five infielders instead of six) for three players, each one offering unique benefits and challenges:

Carlos Quentin

Far and away the best bat of the group, but his recent injury problems are well-documented. Learning to play first base makes sense at this stage of his career and he is taking to the position quickly, but not ready to overtake Alonso or Middlebrooks for the spot. Offers a solid option as a late-inning pinch-hitter, something he did tremendously well in 2014, but outfield defense is a major concern.

Cameron Maybin

The best defensively and arguably the most naturally talented of the trio, Maybin is also nearly as injury-prone as Quentin and missed 25 games last year after a positive test for amphetamines (which he says was due to a change in ADHD medications). Maybin is a great late-inning defensive replacement but will not offer much in the way of offense, IF he’s able to stay on the field.

Will Venable

Easily the most durable, Venable has only sat 41 games over the last three seasons and most of those were due to ineffectiveness, not injury. Venable is another wonderful defensive outfielder and the lone left-handed bat in the group, but aside from a 22-home run outburst in 2013 his offense has never fully developed as the Padres had hoped.

If the bottom line decision on who stays and who goes comes down to finances … well, it’s just as muddled as any other factor.

None of them have minor league options because each player is on a Major League contract with at least five years of MLB service time. So, again assuming the Padres are only keeping five outfielders, one will have to be traded or released. A trade is, of course, most appealing, but not likely at this point.

That leaves a flat-out release. However, MLB rules say a player under contract who’s released must be paid the full amount remaining on his contract.

Quentin would be due $11 million ($8 million in 2015 plus a $3 million buyout for 2016). Maybin would get $16 million ($7 million for 2015, $8 million for 2016 plus a $1 million buyout for 2017). Venable would receive $4.25 million because his contract is up after this season.

So, the most reliable option is the cheapest. The best offensive option is the most fragile. The best defensive option is the most expensive. But, something’s gotta give.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Clint Barmes]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:18:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/465319926.jpg

The first established big league ballplayer that Padres General Manager A.J. Preller signed was infielder Clint Barmes. Known as an above-average infielder with a serviceable bat, he's been an every day player since finishing 8th in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2005.

Everywhere Barmes has gone, he's been expected to start. But, coming off two injury-plagued seasons in Pittsburgh, Barmes arrived in San Diego with a different role in mind: utility infielder.

Then he saw all the other changes Preller made, and was energized to be a part of what could be a special year. NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked with Barmes about his new team and new responsibility.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Tyson Ross]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 20:54:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/465613864.jpg

I’m going to show you the statistics of two starting pitchers from the 2014 MLB season, but not their names.

Pitcher 1:

31 starts, 2.81 ERA, 13 HR allowed, 195 K, 1.21 WHIP

Pitcher 2:

33 starts, 2.98 ERA, 21 HR allowed, 219 K, 1.09 WHIP

Pretty similar numbers, both suggesting a bunch of success. However, Pitcher 1 finished with a 13-14 record while Pitcher 2 was 18-10. If that is not a case study in how the WINS stat has become useless in evaluating the importance of a starting pitcher, I don’t know what is.

By the way, Pitcher 1 is Tyson Ross. Pitcher 2 is Madison Bumgarner. Yes, a pitcher does need to have other factors in place to have success. An offense would be nice.

So, that’s why Ross is a dark horse 20-game winner in 2015 (OK, the WINS stat is useless but that’s always going to be a cool thing to say). The Padres will score a lot more runs in 2015 than they did a year ago, so Ross might not just be in consideration for another All-Star game. He could be in the Cy Young conversation.

NBC 7’s Derek Togerson talked with Ross about how he approached this year’s Spring Training, and his dedication to a routine that would put most normal people in the chiropractor’s office.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ultimate Padres Fan Experience Sweepstakes]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 19:04:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padres-2015-Ult-Exp.jpg

Are you excited to see the new San Diego Padres take the field this season?

If your answer is a resounding “heck yes!” then you will want to get in on NBC 7’s Ultimate Padres Fan Experience Sweepstakes.

Here is the list of all that is included in the exciting prize package:

  • 4 tickets to Opening Day game vs. San Francisco Giants at Petco Park on April 9
  • 4 tickets to May 15 vs. Washington Nationals, includes admission to Party in the Park on May 15
  • Ian Kennedy autographed, authenticated baseball
  • Andrew Cashner Camouflage Jersey
  • Padres Swag: Hat, T-shirt, tote bag, lapel pin, wristbands, squishy balls, license plate cover, pens, cups, collapsible water bottle, floppy beach hat, Petco Park 10-year celebration canvas, holiday ornament, temporary tattoos and last but certainly not least - collar stays!

Click HERE to enter to win the Ultimate Padres Fan Experience. Enter daily to increase your chances of winning and be sure to share with friends so they can take you to Opening Day if they win! Good luck!
 



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Cory Luebke (Again)]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2015 17:35:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/143233764.jpg

In 2012, Cory Luebke was one becoming of the best young left-handed pitchers in the National League. Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, not a man prone to hyperbole, even said as much.

Luebke had just signed a 4-year, $12 million contract. Then he needed Tommy John surgery. Then he needed another elbow reconstruction. He last threw off a big league mound on April 27th, 2012.

Now Luebke is trying to come back again. He could return some time this season. NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked with Luebke about the new clubhouse dynamic, and his long road to recovery.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2015 Padres FanFest at Capacity]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 20:00:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PFF69.jpg

It’s going to be a full house at Petco Park next month when the San Diego Padres host the 2015 FanFest.

On Friday, the team announced that pre-registration for the free annual event – set for 9 a.m. on April 4 – had reached capacity. In order to enter, fans had to obtain a free FanFest voucher available on the Padres website.

The event includes an exhibition game against the Mexico City Red Devils, which begins at 2 p.m. Each FanFest voucher includes an assigned seat for that game, which is why attendees were asked to pre-register for the free baseball event.

The Padres said that fans who didn’t pre-register may still have a chance to attend because a limited number of passes may be released on site the day of the event.

To that end, a standby line will be in place at the main ticket windows on Park Boulevard on April 4 for that purpose. Due to the overwhelming demand for FanFest passes, organizers said re-entry will not be permitted. As fans leave the ballpark, those in the standby line will be granted entry in their place, organizers said.

As always, FanFest will be the first opportunity for fans to see this season’s Padres squad at Petco Park. Players and coaches will host autograph sessions.

Attendees will also have a chance to play catch in the outfield and check out this season’s ballpark updates.

Fans can park for free in Padres-owned lots around the ballpark, but those are expected to fill up before 9 a.m. Three points of entry into FanFest will be set up at the Home Plate Gate on Park Boulevard, the Gaslamp Gate on 7th Avenue and the East Village Gate on 10th Avenue.
 



Photo Credit: John Audley]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Suffer Loss To Starting Rotation]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 21:23:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/466035456.jpg

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the unquestioned aces of the Dodgers pitching staff. But, they have a pretty good 3rd amigo in the rotation.

Hyun-jin Ryu has won 14 games each of the last two seasons. He was the Opening Night starter for Los Angeles last year when Kershaw and Greinke were out with injuries. But, the Dodgers are shutting him down because of tightness in his left (pitching) shoulder.

Ryu missed time with the same kind of problem last year and says this time the discomfort is not as severe, but L.A. is not taking any chances. They're already considered the possibility of putting him on the disabled list to start the season.

if that happens he would miss the season-opening series against the Padres at Dodger Stadium, leaving manager Don Mattingly options including Erik Bedard, Joe Wieland, Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias (not exactly the same quality).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Jedd Gyorko]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 00:46:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/465320342.jpg

Jedd Gyorko had a tremendous rookie season. Hitting 23 home runs as a 2nd baseman at Petco Park is nothing to sneeze at.

But, a lingering foot injury and a terrible start led to the classic "sophomore slump." Last year Gyorko's home runs, RBI and batting average all dipped dramatically. But, as his foot healed up, Jedd heated up.

He had 24 hits in 24 games in September and reported no pain. Now, Gyorko is primed to have another big season with the bat. NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked to Jedd about the status of his injury, his new friends in the Padres lineup, and whether or not San Diego's infield truly is the team's weakest link.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Cory Spangenberg]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:38:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/174*120/454481788.jpg

Cory Spangenberg turns 24 years old on Monday (Happy Birthday, Cory!). The Padres infield prospect made his MLB debut at the end of the 2014 season and made an immediate impression.

Spangenberg, know for his line drive swing more than his power, hit .290 with two home runs and drove in nine runs in just 20 games.

He also showed the kind of utility Padres manager Bud Black likes, playing games at 2B, 3B and left field. NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked with Spangenberg about his power surge, trying to make a big league Opening Day roster, and doing something San Diego has not seen in almost a decade.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Surgery Sidelines Padres Catcher]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 21:29:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Tim+Federowicz.jpg

The main goal of Spring Training for any Major League Baseball team is to prevent any major injuries. Unfortunately, it almost never happens. Once again, the Padres, weren’t so lucky.

Catcher Tim Federowicz injured his right knee earlier in Spring Training in a game against the Rockies re-positioning on defense. Friday surgeons at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla repaired a complete tear of the lateral meniscus.

Recovery is expected to last between 3-6 months. Manager Bud Black said the timeline looks to be around the All-Star break or mid-August.

The Padres were hoping the injury could be fixed by a less invasive arthroscopic procedure but when they found out the meniscus was completely torn that was no longer an option.

Federowicz joined the Padres on December 18th as part of the trade that also brought Matt Kemp to San Diego and sent catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Wieland to the Dodgers.

Wil Nieves now looks to be the Padres' primary backup to Derek Norris. The injury also opens the possibility of heralded prospect Austin Hedges to make his first Opening Day roster.

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<![CDATA[Petco Park Metal Detectors Ready By Opening Day]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 21:05:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres+military+pics+10.jpg

About a month ago, the Padres announced that Petco Park will have walk-through metal detectors installed at all its entrances. On Friday, Major League Baseball reiterated its desire to have metal detectors at every MLB facility and offered its reasoning for the mandate in a statement:

“This procedure, which resulted from a recent study of best security practices and MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security to elevate and standardize initiatives across the game, will be in addition to bag checks that have been uniform throughout MLB.  Fan screening may be conducted by means of hand-held metal detection or walk-through magnetometers.  Fans should monitor announcements from Clubs regarding their individual programs and the details of the anticipated practices in each market. “

Now, fans hear that and it’s hard not to think this is going to be a process like getting through an airport. John McHale, Jr., MLB’s Executive Vice President, Administration, says that’s not going to be an issue.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our fans,” said McHale, Jr. “In the last several seasons, our experiences in many markets and at our jewel events have indicated that fans have a high level of understanding of these efforts.  We believe this step will pose minimal inconvenience and ultimately will serve the best interests of fans.”

All 30 MLB parks will have the metal detectors in place by Opening Day except Wrigley Field, which is undergoing major construction updates and won’t even have the left field bleachers ready to go until about May.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Will Ferrell Plays Right Field for San Diego Padres]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 11:09:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Will-Ferrell-Bud-Black.jpg

Comedian Will Ferrell played all 9 positions and coached for 10 teams in five Arizona ballparks Thursday in a spring-training blitz chronicled for an HBO special.

In one video clip posted by the San Diego Padres, Ferrell joked with manager Bud Black about his chances to make the team. 

"How many other 47 year olds do you have on your roster?" Ferrell asked Black. Then the comedian quickly adds, "At least four or five." 

With that, Black had to laugh.


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<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Will Middlebrooks]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:54:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Will+Middlebrooks+Padres.jpg

One of the less-heralded moves Padres General Manager A.J. Preller made in the off-season was trading catcher Ryan Hanigan (just acquired in the Wil Myers deal) to Boston for 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks. It could turn out to be the most savvy transaction of them all.

After a solid rookie season in 2012, Middlebrooks was the Red Sox Opening Day starter at 3rd each of the last two seasons. But, injuries plagued him both years and he lost his starting spot. When Boston signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, Middlebrooks was expendable.

He's never been short on power, and a change of scenery might help him unlock his potential. NBC 7 Sportswrap's Derek Togerson talked with Middlebrooks about getting healthy, coming to San Diego, and what's really important in life.

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<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Tim Federowicz]]> Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:20:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/464964608.jpg

Matt Kemp was the big name in the Padres' blockbuster trade with the Dodgers. But, there was another guy who came down from Los Angeles in the deal.

Catcher Tim Federowicz is expected to be the backup to Derek Norris. He caught Clayton Kershaw during a division-winning season, so he knows how to handle top-notch pitching talent.

He suffered a setback in Sunday's Cactus League game against the Rockies, tearing the meniscus in his right knee. He'll likely have arthroscopic surgery and miss three or four weeks, which means he might not be ready for Opening Day in L.A. but his season is not in jeopardy.

NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked with Federowicz about which Padres pitcher has the best stuff, whether or not San Diego has the look of a playoff contender, and most importantly ... just how do you pronounce his last name?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>