<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Padres]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcsandiego.com/feature/san-diego-padres http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usSun, 31 Jul 2016 02:51:58 -0700Sun, 31 Jul 2016 02:51:58 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Padres Walk Off Winners]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 23:43:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/164*120/GettyImages-584797880.jpg

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Trade Kemp]]> Sat, 30 Jul 2016 22:08:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-583771498.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Padres Trade Outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. ]]> Tue, 26 Jul 2016 10:35:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-512501990.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[No No-No But A Heck of a Padres Debut]]> Sun, 17 Jul 2016 18:08:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/161*120/GettyImages-576805242.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Balk Off The Giants]]> Sat, 16 Jul 2016 23:30:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/171*120/GettyImages-576683482.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Add Another Unlikely Starter]]> Sat, 16 Jul 2016 16:20:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*128/Edwin+Jackson+Braves.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Evolution of Drew Pomeranz]]> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 16:44:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/Drew+Pomeranz+Padres+Pitcher.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green appreciated Pomeranz stating his case for the rotation.

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wil Myers Earns All-Star Start]]> Mon, 11 Jul 2016 18:05:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-544776806.jpg

The magical season for Wil Myers continued on Monday. The Padres 1st baseman found out that not only is he a first-time All-Star in his home ballpark, but he's going to be in the starting lineup, batting 4th as the National League's designated hitter.

That must have been a fun conversation to have with Mets Manager Terry Collins, who is the NL skipper and undoubtedly would have called and told Myers about it. Right?

“I saw it on Twitter,” said Myers. “I found out on Twitter so I have not had that conversation with him yet.”

Welcome to 2016! Myers says he was not actively looking on social media to see what the lineup was going to be.

“No, I was just scrolling through Twitter on the two minutes of down time I’ve had and saw it. I’m obviously very excited about it, very honored just to be out there taking the field with the starters.”

Collins actually told the media before he told Myers and explained why he put Wil in the starting lineup. Part of it had to do with the fact the game is in San Diego. Another part of it is he had a pretty good idea White Sox lefty Chris Sale would get the start for the American League.

"We wanted to get a right-handed bat in the lineup if we could against Sale," said Collins. "Wil has had a tremendous season. I got my staff involved and they came up with three names (to be the DH) and Myers was one of them. He's used to playing [at Petco Park] more than anybody else. We think he's capable of putting runs on the board for us."

That strategy would make sense. Myers has hit 19 home runs this season and 13 have come at Petco Park (a fact I’m sure he came across on Twitter). The entire National League starting lineup looks like this:

1)    2B Ben Zobrist, Cubs
2)    RF Bryce Harper, Nationals
3)    3B Kris Bryant, Cubs (by way of the University of San Diego)
4)    DH Wil Myers, Padres
5)    C Buster Posey, Giants
6)    1B Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
7)    CF Marcell Ozuna, Marlins
8)    LF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
9)    SS Addison Russell, Cubs
P Johnny Cueto, Giants

The American League will counter with this starting 10 from Royals manager Ned Yost:

1)    2B Jose Altuve, Astros
2)    CF Mike Trout, Angels
3)    3B Manny Machado, Orioles
4)    DH David Ortiz, Red Sox
5)    SS Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
6)    1B Eric Hosmer, Royals
7)    RF Mookie Betts, Red Sox
8)    C Salvador Perez, Royals
9)    LF Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox
P Chris Sale, White Sox



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Defense Dooms Padres in Loss]]> Sat, 09 Jul 2016 21:56:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-545736372.jpg

The Padres only had three hits in Saturday’s game against the Dodgers. Had they not made two errors that actually would have been enough to win.

San Diego was undone by shoddy defense in a 4-3 loss in Los Angeles. The Friars took the lead in the top of the 1st inning when Yangervis Solarte launched a 2-run home run to right field off Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy. But the Padres started giving back runs almost immediately.

Starting pitcher Luis Perdomo made a throwing error on a comebacker by leadoff hitter Chase Utley, who eventually scored on a two-out double by Adrian Gonzalez that cut the lead to 2-1. L.A. took the lead in the 4th inning when Howie Kendrick snuck a ball just inside the bag down the 3rd base line. The double brought in two runs and put the Dodgers ahead 3-2.

The Padres tied it an inning later when Travis Jankowski singled home Alexei Ramirez but in the bottom half the infield made another boo boo. A pair of singles put runners at first and second with nobody out but Perdomo got Gonzalez to hit a ground ball to Ryan Schimpf at 2nd base. He tried to start a double play but Justin Turner disrupted Ramirez trying to make the turn and the throw sailed off the glove of Wil Myers at 1st base, allowing Corey Seager to score what turned out to be the winning run.

The Dodgers bullpen tossed 4.0 innings of no-hit ball with eight strikeouts to lock down the win. The Padres can split the series on Sunday. Christian Friedrich gets the final start before the All-Star break against Kenta Maeda.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Get Another All-Star]]> Sat, 09 Jul 2016 13:50:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Drew-Pomeranz-Getty.jpg

The MLB All-Star Game in San Diego will now feature a pair of Padres. Left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz was added to the National League roster on Saturday, joining 1st baseman Wil Myers in the Midsummer Classic at Petco Park.

This is the first All-Star selection for Pomeranz, who is in his first season with the Padres. The lefty is 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA and 115 strikeouts. Pomeranz was acquired in an off-season trade with the A's that sent 1st baseman Yonder Alonso to Oakland (the same move that cleared the way for Myers to take over 1st base full-time).

It was assumed he would resume his role as a relief pitcher but Drew won a spot in the rotation in Spring Training and has been easily the best starter on the club.

Pomeranz replaces Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard, who was removed from his last start due do a shoulder issue.

Two other moves were made to the NL team. Pirates outfielder Starling Marte and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce will replace Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes and Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler, who are both nursing injuries. Cespedes and Fowler were both in the starting lineup and will be replaced in the starting nine by Marlins OF Marcell Ozuna and Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, the highest ranked NL outfielders on the Player Ballot.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Ramp Up All-Star Game Security]]> Wed, 06 Jul 2016 20:50:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/175*120/Petco+Park+Pre+All+Star+Game.JPG

The Padres are out of town for the next week so Petco Park can start getting ready to host its first MLB All-Star Game. Part of that preparation is beefing up security around the event.

In today’s world any large, well-publicized gathering is a potential target. Both local and national law enforcement have been working on keeping this one safe since America’s Finest City was awarded the Midsummer Classic a year and a half ago. On Wednesday we received an update on the security procedures.

“We checked in with the FBI and all of our intelligence agencies,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “There are no known, specific, credible threats to not just San Diego but to the entire region. Let me repeat there are no known credible threats.”

But that does not mean the police presence will be dialed down. Starting on Sunday for the MLB All-Star Futures Game and the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game fans at and around the park will know officers are there. And they’ll also NOT know officers are there.

“You will see officers in uniform, on bicycles, in vehicles, you’ll see our helicopter,” said Zimmerman. “But we’re also going to have a significant presence of undercover officers working with us, again working with state, local, federal, including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and others. It is a significant high-visibility presence and also quite a bit out there that you won’t see.”

San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy says his group has worked hand-in-hand with the Padres and SDPD to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.

“We have an event action plan,” says Fennessy. “We can assist and respond to emergencies.”

So now that everyone has the safety part of it locked down, what about the logistical aspect? Fans that are coming to the game are going to have to go through the same security procedures as any other game at Petco Park. That means bag checks and metal detectors. Bags are allowed in the park as long as they’re no larger than 16” x 16” x 8” and all bags and purses will be checked.

Even if you’re not going to any of the All-Star events but live or expect to visit Downtown keep in mind there will be road closures to deal with. The MLB Block Party runs from Sunday, July 10 through Tuesday, July 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day. J Street from 6th Ave. to 10th Ave. will be closed from Friday, July 8 at 6:00 a.m. straight through to Wednesday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.

The MLB 5K Color Run goes on Sunday morning from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and will impact several streets. Southbound Pacific Highway will be closed between Broadway and West Harbor Drive … and the #2 southbound lane of East Harbor Drive will be closed between Pacific Highway and Park Blvd. from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. W. Ash will be closed between Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway and N. Harbor will be closed between Grape Street and West harbor Drive from 2:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

On Monday night the MLB Gala will close eastbound Broadway from Harbor Drive to Pacific Highway from 6:00 p.m. through midnight.

On Tuesday, the day of the All-Star Game, there will be a parade that shuts down multiple streets. See the full parade route here.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Midseason Award Winners]]> Mon, 04 Jul 2016 13:14:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-544776806.jpg

The Padres open a 3-game series against the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Independence Day. The Friars have played 82 games and sit 12 games under .500, making them the 3rd-worst team in the National League. Still, now that we’ve crested the midway point of the season there have been some good things.

So since we did our quarter-season awards in May, let us hand out a few mid-season awards in July, starting with:

MVP: Wil Myers

Duh.

But seriously the guy is putting up the kinds of numbers that, if he was on a contending team, would warrant legitimate league MVP consideration. The reigning National League Player of the Month has come in to his own, is about to earn his first All-Star Game nod, and is only 25 years old with no real consistent help in the lineup.

CY YOUNG: Drew Pomeranz

Nothing has changed here. Pomeranz had a bit of a rough spot, something all pitchers go through, but is still easily the best arm on the staff in 2016. He’s already set a career-high with seven wins and is pitching to a 2.65 ERA while staying among the league leaders in strikeouts. Plus his pitch efficiency has dramatically improved of late. In his last three starts (all Padres wins) Pomeranz has gone 20.0 innings with 20 whiffs and only two walks. The only problem is he’s only 1.2 innings away from tying his career high for an entire season so at some point soon the team will have to start thinking about curtailing his work load.

ROOKIE OF THE (HALF) YEAR: Colin Rea

We had Ryan Buchter here in May and he is still worthy of consideration and should probably be the Padres closer now that Fernando Rodney is gone. But aside from two really rough outings Rea has been a nice addition to the rotation. He still works too many deep counts and runs hit pitch count up too early, keeping him from going deep in to games, but he’s shown that he has the stuff to be successful at the MLB level. He will, however, have the same issue as Pomeranz as he continues to pile up innings and will have to skip a few starts in the second half of the season.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: Melvin Upton, Jr.

He was the surprise at the quarter-season because we weren’t expecting him to live up to his contract. He’s the surprise at mid-season because he’s making that contract look like a bargain. Upton has three walk-off home runs and is playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, plus he’s been a surprisingly positive clubhouse presence for the younger players (not the reputation he had coming over from Atlanta). Upton has gone from a guy the Padres would have loved to trade to a guy they might want to seriously consider holding on to.

BIGGEST LOSS: Fernando Rodney

Not just because he was probably going to the All-Star Game as one of the most dominant closers in baseball … Rodney is just an instantly likeable guy. He was a stabilizing force for the Padres bullpen and a clubhouse leader.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: (TIE) The Bullpen and Baserunning

The ‘pen can be amazing one night and atrocious the next, and it’s not just one or two guys. Every night everyone has the ability to strike out the side or give up back-to-back-to-back home runs (save Buchter, for the most part). Consistency from the relievers would be nice to see. As for the baserunning? I’ve never seen a team get picked off base as often, get thrown out at the plate as often, and make the 1st or 3rd out at 3rd base as often as this group of guys does. I’m all for aggressiveness but when it crosses in to recklessness you’re just hurting yourself.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Upton Walks Off The Yankees]]> Sat, 02 Jul 2016 22:56:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Melvin+Upton+walkoff.jpg

The Padres have not swept a series in 2016. If they get their first one against the New York Yankees, it will probably have just a little extra special meaning for San Diego baseball fans who still remember the 1998 World Series.

Melvin Upton Jr. put the Friars in a position to pull it off. Upton hit his third walk-off home run of the season on Saturday night, a solo shot leading off the 9th against Yankees reliever Andrew Miller, to give San Diego a 2-1 win and their second straight one-run decision against the Yanks.

Upton has been the Padres’ best position player not named Myers and his big moment was made possible in part by San Diego’s best pitcher.

Lefty Drew Pomeranz made his second straight stellar start. Pomeranz went 7.0 innings, allowing one run and striking out seven. In his last two starts he’s gone 14.0 innings with just one run allowed, potentially rekindling his chances of getting a spot on the All-Star team.

The Padres got their first run in the 6th inning on a Matt Kemp RBI double that scored Wil Myers and tied the game 1-1. That’s how it stayed until the bottom of the 9th.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had closer Aroldis Chapman ready to go but chose to stick with Miller, is setup man who is likely going to be on the American League All-Star team. Apparently Girardi did not check his stat sheet. Upton came in to the game with a .400 average and two home runs in his career against Miller.

Perhaps it should be no surprise, then, that Upton hammered the first pitch he saw in to the left field seats to send the Friar Faithful home happy. The Padres can complete that sweep on Sunday if Andrew Cashner can come off the disabled list and beat Chad Green.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Break the Bank on International Market]]> Sat, 02 Jul 2016 20:22:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Preller+jersey.jpg

There is making a splash. Then there is doing a cannonball in to the kiddie pool. The Padres did the latter on the opening of Major League Baseball’s international signing period on Saturday.

The Padres cut a deal with 13 players, all from Latin America, but even more impressive than the volume of signings is the quality the Friars are adding.

Baseball America and MLB.com both make lists of the top international talent and San Diego was able to land eight players who show up in the rankings, including six of the top 30 and two of the top five. If this was a college football recruiting class the Padres would be Alabama.

So how did they get all of these guys? By spending a whole lot of cash. The Padres have already dropped upwards of $25 million on the 13 players. They only had $3.3 million for their pool allotment and will pay a dollar-for-dollar tax on anything over that. Add it up and the Friars spent about $50 million bucks on players on Saturday alone. . Keep in mind, this franchise has never spent more than $5 million in any single international signing period.

"It's a significant investment from ownership,” said Padres International Scouting Director Chris Kemp. “We're going to look to add to our talent base. We talked to ownership about potentially going beyond that allotment and it shows the commitment from our ownership to build a championship level organization. Give them credit for putting faith in our scouting department. We wanted to go get impact guys."

They gave Dominican shortstop Luis Almanzar, the number two prospect in Baseball America’s rankings and number three for MLB.com, a $4 million bonus, an international record for the organization.

“The first thing that comes to mind is the bat,” said Kemp of Almanzar. “Tremendous swing. You've got a savvy kid in the box that just knows how to hit. They say hitters are born and he looks like a natural hitter."

Believe it or not, Kemp also says the Padres are not done yet.

"I think every player that's available is going to be scouted heavily. We have a plan in place to keep scouting. We're going to be digging in the bushes in every country possible to find impact players."

July 2 is only the start of the international signing period. It extends in to the beginning of 2017.

“There are going to be plenty of players over the next year that we're going to have interest in,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. “From our standpoint this is the start of the window. Throughout the year we're going to use the window to add as much talent as we can to the system."

The Padres are reportedly in the mix for a trio of top Cuban players, as well, but they have not been cleared by MLB yet. There is no doubt this is a gamble. The Padres are handing out lots of cash to a bunch of 16-year-old kids who may or may not pan out. It’s a high-risk, high-reward proposition but the majority opinion around MLB talent evaluators is if ever there was a year to go nuts with international signings this was it.

“We think a bunch of guys are going to be ready,” said Preller. “They're fairly well advanced. Sometimes in Latin America you're dealing with raw athletes. This year I think we got more polished baseball players."

Here is the full list of players the Padres inked on Saturday (all deals are pending physicals):

•    SS Luis Almanzar – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
o    Ranked No. 2 on Baseball America’s Top 50 International Prospects List
o    Ranked No. 3 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list

•    SS Gabriel Arias – Maracay, Venezuela
o    Ranked No. 4 on Baseball America’s Top 50
o    Ranked No. 5 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list

•    OF Jeisson Rosario – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
o    Ranked No. 6 on Baseball America’s Top 50
o    Ranked No. 9 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list

•    SS Jordy Barley – Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
o    Ranked No. 15 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list
o    Ranked No. 50 on Baseball America’s Top 50

•    SS Justin Lopez – Bobare, Lara, Venezuela
o    Ranked No. 27 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list
o    Ranked No. 28 on Baseball America’s Top 50

•    OF Tirso Ornelas – Tijuana, Mexico
o    Ranked No. 28 on MLB.com’s Top 30 International Prospects list
o    No. 34 on Baseball America’s Top 50

•    C Alison Quintero – Venezuela
o    Ranked No. 22 on Baseball America’s Top 50

•    RHP Michael Miliano – Dominican Republic
o    Ranked No. 48 on Baseball America’s Top 50

•    RHP Jose Manuel Guzman – Dominican Republic

•    INF Tucupita Marcano – Venezuela

•    RHP Martin Carrasco – Mexico

•    CF Augustin Ruiz – Mexico

•    RHP Luis Patinio – Colombia

They can still add players for top dollar this year but exceeding their pool money so dramatically means the Padres will not be able to sign any international players for more than a $300,000 bonus in 2017 or 2018.

You might have noticed nine of the 13 players are position players and four of them are shortstops. That is by design. Preller says the strength of this year’s MLB Draft was pitching, so the Padres took pitchers with 10 of their first 12 selections. Now the picture is a little more complete.

“We'll start getting some balance between the guys we took in the Draft and the guys we signed internationally,” said Preller.

The next step for the 2016 international class is to start training at the Padres Dominican Republic Academy. They’ll start working with Kemp and the Padres coaching staff soon. Odds are it will take at least five years before any of them will be seen in a regular season game at Petco Park, and that’s if their development is accelerated.

But if the Padres have found even one player the caliber of a Miguel Cabrera (international class of 1999) or Miguel Sano (2009) then it all might end up being worth it.



Photo Credit: Matthew Wood/NBC7]]>
<![CDATA[Myers Earns National Award]]> Sat, 02 Jul 2016 15:53:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/Wil+Myers+Bat+Flip.jpg

If there was any doubt whether or not Wil Myers was going to be on the All-Star team, it was pretty much erased on Saturday.

The Padres 1st baseman was named the National League Player of the Month for June. All he with the 26 games he played was lead the Major Leagues with 33 RBI and 21 extra-base hits while being tops in the NL in total bases (75), home runs (T-1st, 11) and runs scored (T-1st, 25). His .765 slugging percentage ranked second among National Leaguers.

This is his first monthly honor for Myers, who is the first Padres position player to win one since Chase Headley earned Player of the Month in September of 2012.

The NL Pitcher of the Month is Cubs lefty Jon Lester, who went 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA and 44 strikeouts in six starts, and the NL Rookie of the Month is Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. He hit eight homers and drove in 20 runs while hitting .343.

Astros 2nd baseman Jose Altuve was named American League Player of the Month. All he did was hit .420 with a .492 OBP. A pair of Indians won the other two awards. Danny Salazar earned the Pitcher of the Month honor (5-0 record, 1.91 ERA, 35 strikeouts) and outfielder Tyler Naquin takes home the Rookie of the Month award. Naquin led all AL rookies in triples, extra-base hits and slugging percentage.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Myers Stays Hot, Padres Beat Yankees]]> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 23:13:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/174*120/GettyImages-544224796.jpg

In the month of June Padres 1st baseman Wil Myers hit .327 with 11 home runs and 33 RBI. He even scored 25 runs. It appears that kind of production was not confined the calendar.

Myers went deep again on the first day of July, a 2-run shot over the right-centerfield wall to help the Padres take game one of a 3-game series against the Yankees 7-6 at Petco Park.  Wil also lined a single to left field and walked to bolster his All-Star resume.

The long ball was the 19th homer of the season for Myers. He was joined on the “touch ‘em all” team by rookie infielder Ryan Schimpf, who smacked the first home run of his big league career in the 2nd inning off Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi.

It helped give Padres starter Colin Rea the breathing room he needed after a shaky start. Rea needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning but didn’t allow a run to score. After that Colin, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday, settled in and threw just 63 pitches over the next 5.0 innings to earn the win.

San Diego led 7-2 at the start of the 9th inning. After trading closer Fernando Rodney to the Marlins the Padres had to find somebody new to handle the final three outs. They settled on Brandon Maurer, who had his work cut out for him in his first chance.

Matt Thornton came in and walked Brian McCann before hitting Starlin Castro with a pitch and giving up an RBI single to the pinch-hitting Alex Rodriguez. With two runners on and nobody out Maurer came in and immediately gave up a double to Didi Gregorius that cut the Padres lead to 7-4. An RBI groundout and a wild pitch brought in two more runs before Carlos Beltran laced a double to left-centerfield to put the tying run in scoring position.

But Maurer was able to get Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to ground out for the final two outs, stranding Beltran and giving Maurer his first save of 2016. The Padres can win the series with a win Saturday night. Drew Pomeranz takes the mound against Ivan Nova.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Preparing To Spend Insane Amount of Money]]> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 18:31:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Preller+On+Set.png

For the Padres, 2016 has not gone according to plan. But help might be on the way. In, like, eight years.

On Saturday, July 2nd, Major League Baseball’s International signing period opens and the Padres are expected to go crazy. They’re rumored to be the favorites to land three of the top six players on the market (according to Baseball America rankings), two of them from the Dominican Republic and one from Venezuela.

The Friars are also said to be on the frontrunners on a few highly regarded Cuban prospects, although it’s not certain when (or if) they’ll be cleared and made available by MLB. The kicker here is how much cash the Padres are willing to spend to do this.

MLB gives you a certain amount of money based on your finish from the year before. You’re allowed to go over your pool allotment but there’s a tax for doing so. The Padres have a pool allotment of about $3.3 million.

If they land all the players they've been linked to it will cost them about $30 million, and that’s just for the players themselves. The tax for going over your allotment is one dollar for every dollar you go over. So if the Padres really go $27 million over their pool they’ll have to pay a $27 million tax.

That is astonishing for a franchise that has a well-earned reputation of frugality. The ownership group led by Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler has put its faith in General Manager A.J. Preller, who came to San Diego with the reputation of being a wizard with Latin American players.

Keep in mind, all this cash will be to lock up a bunch of 16-and-17-year-old kids, which would appear to be a huge gamble. But is it really? That is among the questions I asked A.J. about what could be a defining moment in Padres franchise history.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Hammered at Home]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 16:32:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/177*120/GettyImages-543635644.jpg

Padres manager Andy Green is not a hothead. But when he’s had his fill of frustration he can blow like any other human being.

Green lost his temper in the top of the 5th inning of a 12-6 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday at Petco Park. With the O’s up 4-0 and the bases loaded Baltimore slugger Chris Davis hit a dribbler up the first base line. Padres pitcher Christian Friedrich fielded the ball and threw to first, and that’s where the fun began.

San Diego 1st baseman Wil Myers missed the throw and the ball ended up in right field. Yovani Gallardo and Jonathan Schoop scored to put the Orioles up 6-0 but Green thought Davis was running too far inside the first base line and should have been called out for interference.

"I got down to 1st base and could see his footprint right there in fair territory, which is where you're not allowed to be," said Green. "With his footprint there and with the way it transpired it should have been an interference call."

Umpiring crew chief Bill Miller, who was at 1st base, disagreed and Green got hot. Really hot. Green started waving his hands and pointing angrily at Miller, who didn’t take too long to throw Andy from the game. After that Green stayed a while longer and really let the ump have it before heading to the clubhouse to watch the rest of the afternoon's proceedings.

"It's my job to fight on behalf of my players," said Green. "I recognize it's a difficult call. There's a lot spinning but the way I saw it in real time it very much looked like he interfered with Wil's ability to catch the baseball."

That was the last inning Friedrich threw on a day where he started off looking tremendous. The Padres lefty retired the first nine hitters he faced, throwing 20 of his first 26 pitches for strikes. But he walked Morse High School alum Adam Jones to lead off the 4th and things immediately unraveled.

Schoop followed with a double to left-center to score Jones … Manny Machado singled to score Schoop … and Mark Trumbo unloaded his 23rd home run of the season in to the second deck in left field to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Gallardo was cruising on the mound for the O’s. He didn’t allow a hit until the 5th inning when Poway native Alex Dickerson dropped a single into shallow left field. The only runs the Padres scored came an inning later when Brett Wallace ripped a 3-run home run to straightaway centerfield. At the time it brought the Padres to within 7-3, theoretically just one grand slam away from tying it up.

That hope evaporated in the 9th inning. Ryan Buchter, one of the most reliable relievers in baseball for much of the year, walked three guys and gave up three hits. Two of the hits were RBI doubles by Machado and Trumbo that put Baltimore up 12-3 and solidified their 2-game series sweep.

Wil Myers bolstered his All-Star resume with a 2-RBI double in the 9th inning. Myers finished June with 21 extra-base hits, tying Greg Vaughn's franchise record for most extra-base hits in a single month.

The Padres get a day off on Thursday then open a 3-game set at Petco Park on Friday night against the New York Yankees. Colin Rea gets the start against Nathan Eovaldi.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Leave Their Brooms In The Closet Again]]> Sun, 26 Jun 2016 13:54:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-543160768.jpg

Ten times now the Padres have had a chance to sweep a series. Ten times they have failed.

The Padres lost to the Reds 3-0 on Sunday at Great American Ballpark, making them 0-10 in games where they’ve been in position to sweep the other team. It’s also the 11th time they’ve been shut out this season (but the first since May 23). Cincinnati starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani looked a lot like an early 1990’s version of Jose Rijo.

DeSclafani tossed 8.0 innings, striking out five without a single walk. All five of the Padres hits were singles and when they did get on base they had a lot of trouble staying there.

The Friars had three runners thrown out on the basepaths. One of them came in the 2nd inning when Melvin Upton Jr., who had been hit by a pitch, got a good jump in his attempt to steal second base. Reds catcher Tucker Burkhart made about as good a throw as a catcher can make, putting the ball right on the bag an instant before Upton slid in to the inning-ending tag.

The other two, however, were simply bad baseball plays. Alexei Ramirez singled in the 1st inning but then decided to try and steal second before DeSclafani started his move to the plate. Ramirez was thrown out easily trying to return to first base. In the 5th inning Upton was picked off first after his leadoff single.

Padres starter Luis Perdomo made one of the better starts of his young career. Perdomo went 6.0 innings, allowing just three runs and striking out five. What’s really promising is he was able to avoid the big inning.

Perdomo’s main struggle has been getting runners out when they reach base and preventing the dreaded snowball effect. Of the 10 baserunners he allowed only three of them scored and one was on a solo home run by Reds slugger Jay Bruce.

Right fielder Matt Kemp was not in the lineup in Cincy. Padres Manager Andy Green decided with a day off on Monday and another one on Thursday he’d like to let Kemp get a long rest. Alexi Amarista started in right field and made a nice defensive play on a fly ball against the fence in foul territory but at the plate went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

The Padres start a 2-game series against the Orioles on Tuesday at Petco Park. Erik Johnson goes for his first win as a San Diego starter against Ubaldo Jimenez.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Hit 4 Home Runs in Win]]> Fri, 24 Jun 2016 20:39:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-542888342.jpg

If hitting truly is contagious then the Padres needed to wear Hazmat suits on Friday night in Cincinnati.

San Diego scored a run in every inning but the 9th en route to a 13-4 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Friars line score looks kind of like a social security number:

111-11-1250

They got a single run in each of the 1st through 6th innings, two more in the 7th and hung a five spot in the 8th. The Padres had 15 hits, including four home runs.

The first long ball was also the first run of the night. Wil Myers continued his torrid June with a solo home run in the 1st inning. For the month Myers has hit 10 homers, driven in 28 runs, scored 22 runs, and rolled up 1.176 OPS. That’s Babe Ruth territory.

Myers had three hits and drove in five runs, making him possibly the only man in a San Diego uniform that had a better night than Melvin Upton Jr. The Padres left fielder also had three hits, two of them home runs, and drove in four. Upton’s first long ball came in the 7th inning, a 2-run blast to right field to put the Padres up 8-4. His second dinger, another 2-run shot in the 8th, capped the high-scoring night.

Adam Rosales also went deep for the Padres, who unleashed a 15 hit attack against five Reds pitchers. San Diego starting pitcher Colin Read had really only one bad inning. Rea gave up four runs, all of them coming in the 3rd inning, when Cincinnati took their only lead of the night at 4-3. Rea ended up going 5.0 innings with seven strikeouts to get the win.

The Friars have won five of their last six games, including the first two of their 4-game set in southern Ohio. They can win the series on Saturday if Drew Pomeranz can beat Brandon Finnegan.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Guys the Padres Should Look at Trading]]> Thu, 23 Jun 2016 10:56:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/192*120/GettyImages-537961862.jpg

NBC 7’s Derek Togerson takes a look at what the Padres might do at the MLB trade deadline in this commentary

Right after the MLB Draft ended Padres General Manager A.J. Preller took time for a lengthy 1-on-1 interview with NBC 7 SportsWrap. Among the topics discussed was the potential for making trades in the seven or so weeks left before the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

“Most teams wait to see where they are at the 60 to 80 game mark,” said Preller. “They kind of see, ‘are we really contenders or not?’ I think we’re no different than anybody else, still evaluating this club. I think a lot of those answers are going to come out in the next couple of weeks to see exactly where we are and whether we’re going to be buyers or sellers.”

Despite their current (as of Wednesday afternoon) 3-game winning streak the Friars sit at 30-42, tied with the Phillies for the third-worst record in the National League. They’re 15.0 games out of first place in the NL West but only 8.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you consider they’d have to leapfrog eight teams to get it.

So 72 games in to the season, right in Preller’s window, it appears the Padres are destined to be sellers at the deadline and they are already taking plenty of calls about a bunch of their pieces. Here’s a look at the guys who are going to get the most interest … and the ones who are most likely to be moved.

Jon Jay, OF

Jay is quietly having a really, really good season. He gets on base, he plays solid defense, he’s a good clubhouse guy, and perhaps most applicable here … he’s on the final year of a very affordable contract. Jay would be an immediate upgrade for a team that needs outfield help or a proven leadoff hitter. The Indians and, interestingly, the Cardinals (Jay’s former team) fill that description.
Trade Likelihood: 99%. The Padres want to get their younger outfielders in to the regular rotation so might as well get something for Jay while you can at the deadline instead of waiting for draft compensation.

Drew Pomeranz, LHP

The Marlins are reportedly among the teams who have called about the left-handed starter who is having a breakout season in San Diego. His 1.6 WAR is in the neighborhood of David Price and Max Scherzer. He also has a controllable contract (not eligible for free agency until 2019), which drives up the asking price. However, within the next three starts he will top his career high in inning pitched so nobody really knows what kind of pitcher they’ll be getting in September since there’s no track record. Still, along with the Marlins, the Orioles and Blue Jays are among a bevy of teams in need serious starting pitching help who could put together a package.
Trade Likelihood: 50%. Pomeranz is going to generate interest. The Padres want to keep him but if an offer makes the MLB club and the farm system better they will listen.

Wil Myers, 1B

We’ve already outlined the awesomeness of Myers’ season. He’s 25 years old and will likely have a .280, 30 HR, 90 RBI, 90 Runs season at Petco Park. That is the kind of piece you build around. Other teams will ask about him and Preller will listen to offers but unless the offer is something along the lines of “we’ll give you our #2 starter and our top two prospects” then A.J. will kindly thank them for the inquiry and hang up the phone.
Trade Likelihood: 3%. If he keeps this up for a whole season then does it again for the first half of next year, then he’ll start generating serious trade buzz.

Fernando Rodney, RHP

This guy has been fantastic, and not just for the numbers. He’s also a tremendous presence in the clubhouse and “We just want to rush through the 8th inning with the lead and get him out there,” said Pomeranz after Rodney saved the lefty’s most recent start against the Nationals. Having a reliable option in the back end of the bullpen is something every contender needs, if not for the saves but for the mental impact it has on a club. If, as Pomeranz says, a team knows they can make it an 8-inning game it gives them a leg up and that’s the feeling of invincibility that Rodney is bringing in 2016.
Trade Likelihood: 90%. The Rangers and Nationals are both World Series contenders who are weak in the late innings. Expect one of them to work hard to pry Rodney out of San Diego.

Ryan Buchter, LHP

A left-handed reliever who gets guys out in high leverage situations? Sure, I’ll take one of those. Buchter has figured it out in San Diego, posting a 1.71 ERA and taking the setup duties from Brandon Maurer. He’s not the most well-known name on the market but other general managers know about him.
Trade Likelihood: 45%. The Cubs have stated they want a left-hander who can handle late-inning situations and certainly have pieces to get one. They’re probably going to take a run at one of the Yankees lefties, either Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller, but so are about a half-dozen other clubs. Whichever teams do not land one of those big fish will almost certainly look for other options and Buchter has proven he’s a valuable (and affordable) asset.

Matt Kemp, OF

This is the guy the Padres would most like to move. He’s also the hardest piece to move. Kemp can still drive in 100 runs and if you put him in to a lineup where he doesn’t have to be THE GUY he becomes even more valuable. But the way he’s patrolled right field at Petco Park will give teams pause. It doesn’t matter as much if you can drive in 100 runs if you let in 50.
Trade Likelihood: 50%. This will be an interesting chess match between Preller and the rest of MLB. The Indians need OF help in a big way and the Giants could certainly use a right fielder to replace the injured Hunter Pence. But Cleveland doesn’t want to add much payroll (making Jay an attractive option) and the Giants need someone who’s not a train wreck defensively. It will take kicking in cash like they did on the James Shields deal but it’s worth it for the Padres to do that and get guys like Alex Dickerson or Hunter Renfroe in the MLB lineup every day.

Melvin Upton, Jr., OF

He’s having a really solid season and has been better than expected when the Padres acquired him from the Braves in the Craig Kimbrel deal. But much like Kemp his contract is problematic. Upton is superior to Kemp defensively but does not have the same power on offense. Any contending team that trades for Upton is going to do so because they need a veteran who can be a reserve starter and late-inning defensive replacement.
Trade Likelihood: 10%. I just don’t see any team wanting Upton bad enough to take on that contract, especially with numerous other options on the market.

Andrew Cashner, RHP

It’s simply not working in San Diego for Cashner. He’s currently on the 15-day Disabled List with a neck strain but is throwing bullpen sessions again and could return in a couple of weeks, which would give him a couple of “show me” starts for other teams looking at rotation help. Cashner has all the ability in the world but for one reason or another hasn’t been able to have prolonged success in the Majors. He could be one of those guys who benefits from a change in scenery and can hit the reset button.
Trade Likelihood: 49%. If he throws well coming off the DL some team will look at his potential, panic and make an offer.

Yangervis Solarte, INF

Versatility is something a contender will always look for down the stretch. Solarte is a switch-hitter who has been at least capable playing at three different positions on the infield. He also brings a fire to the lineup and his passion is something that can rub off on teammates.
Trade Likelihood: 26%. I don’t anticipate a market developing for Solarte but if a contender loses an infielder or utility guy to injury this is a guy who can step in and contribute.

Derek Norris, C

Norris has not been consistent on offense and there are concerns about his ability to call a game but he’s a veteran who’s been durable and certainly shows the kind of toughness you want from a backstop. The Padres have gotten a nice season from Christian Bethancourt in a reserve role but they really want Austin Hedges to be their guy for the next decade.
Trade Likelihood: 70%. Now that Hedges is healthy and raking at El Paso (he was hitting .342 as of this writing) the Padres are itching to bring him back to the big league club. If Preller can find anyone willing to take Norris my guess is he’ll do it.

Everybody else is either going to generate little to no interest or be a throw-in on another deal. Tyson Ross would have been on the list but his injury situation has scared off other teams for this season. Still, that’s 10 guys who will probably be actively discussed, making the next month or so awfully busy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Finally Win On Sunday!!!]]> Sun, 19 Jun 2016 17:30:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-541473624.jpg

You had to figure if the Padres were ever going to win a game on a Sunday they were going to do it on Father’s Day. San Diego came in to their series finale against the Nationals 0-10 on Sundays in 2016. Finally, the long regional nightmare is over.

The Padres beat the Nationals 6-3 at Petco Park, splitting their 4-game set with the National League East leaders.

The first pitch was delivered at 1:41 p.m. The Padres were trailing by 1:41 and 15 seconds. Michael Taylor hammered the first offering of the game from Drew Pomeranz in to the left field seats to put the Nationals up 1-0. Taylor had four hits, including two home runs, for the first multi-homer game of his career.

San Diego got the run right back in the bottom half when Wil Myers continued his recent hot streak with a line drive single to centerfield. He scored two batters later on a single by Yangervis Solarte. In the 4th inning the Padres took their first lead when Adam Rosales, starting at 2nd base against Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez, ripped a double to left-centerfield to bring home Melvin Upton Jr. and Derek Norris.

The 3-1 lead was erased immediately. Danny Espinosa and Taylor both took Pomeranz deep in the 5th to tie it up again. Just like they did in the first inning, the Padres answered immediately. Norris hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring in Solarte and Alexei Ramirez lined a single to center to score Upton and put San Diego up 5-3.

The Friars got another run in the 6th on an RBI single by Matt Kemp, securing a win for Pomeranz, who went 6.0 innings and only gave up the three solo homers while punching out seven.

Carlos Villanueva and Ryan Buchter threw scoreless innings, setting the stage for Fernando Rodney to work another 1-2-3 inning for his 14th save. Rodney still has not allowed an earned run in 2016.

There is a small damper on the win, though. Centerfielder Jon Jay was hit on the forearm with a pitch and had to leave the game with a contusion. Manager Andy Green said x-rays were negative so Jay is not a DL candidate at the moment.

The Padres have a day off on Monday then start a short 2-game set in Baltimore against the Orioles on Tuesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wil Myers Needs To Be An All-Star]]> Sun, 19 Jun 2016 16:05:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Wil+Myers+Padres+HR.jpg

I think we can all assume Padres closer Fernando Rodney is going to be on the All-Star team. It’s nearly impossible to keep a closer with a 0.00 ERA off the roster, especially in his own ballpark. But there is another San Diego star-in-the-making who deserves to be on the field July 12 at Petco Park.

Wil Myers needs to be an All-Star in 2016. I’m not just saying that because I cover the Padres and like the kid. The numbers say he’s worthy of playing in the Midsummer Classic at Petco Park.

Offensively Myers leads all NL 1st baseman in: Runs, Hits, Stolen Bases. He’s 2nd in the NL in: Home Runs, Doubles, Batting Average. He’s in the top-4 in all the other major statistical categories except Walks and OBP.

Plus he’s on a crazy hot streak. Myers has nine home runs in June and yes, players on a roll do get more of a look than guys who started hot and fizzled.

Mets Manager Terry Collins will likely be taking three 1st baseman, which is typical of modern All-Star Games. Over the last 10 contests the National League has had a trio of 1B six times, taken two only once, and had four on three occasions. So assuming three guys will make it ... who is Wil’s competition?

Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs is going to win the fan vote and get the start. The other guys in the conversation are as follows:

Wil Myers, SDP

.292 BA
16 HR
44 RBI
46 Runs
.871 OPS
2.6 WAR (Tops among all MLB 1st basemen)

Paul Goldschmidt, AZ

.289 BA
14 HR
45 RBI
41 Runs
.939 OPS
2.5 WAR

Brandon Belt, SF

.305 BA
10 HR
35 RBI
35 Runs
.958 OPS
1.8 WAR

Freddie Freeman, ATL

.279 BA
12 HR
25 RBI
33 Runs
.857 OPS
1.4 WAR

Goldschmidt is the only guy with numbers really comparable to Myers but the guy who might be the biggest obstacle is Freeman. Since every team must have an ASG representative (a conversation for another day) the Braves have to have somebody on the roster and Freeman is the most deserving guy in Atlanta so he might, out of necessity, take up the roster spot that Myers would have gotten.

The other candidate from the Braves is starting pitcher Julio Teheran who is 3-7 but tossed a 1-hit shutout with seven whiffs against Collins and the Mets on Sunday. His 2.66 ERA would look awfully good on the National League staff.

Plus there is defense to consider and that’s where Myers might be able to separate himself from the pack. He’s the only 1st baseman in the National League who has not made an error this season, which is astonishing given the fact he’s played the position for less than a year. Sure the Padres shift a ton and that likely makes things a little easier on him since there’s an extra guy on his side of the infield.

Wil has gotten visibly more comfortable as a corner infielder and has saved several of his teammates with nice picks on balls in the dirt. The guy is simply one of the best players at his position in the National League and he needs to be recognized as such.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ichiro Makes History But Padres Get a Win]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:17:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/189*120/GettyImages-540463612.jpg

The Padres beat the Marlins 6-3 on Wednesday at Petco Park but in the process we got to see an interesting little bit of history.

Ichiro Suzuki had a pair of hits putting him just 21 shy of 3000 for his Major League Baseball career. It likely won’t take him too long to reach the almost mythical number and guarantee his spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But if we take Ichiro’s professional career as a whole? Well, baseball has a brand new hits king.

Adding Ichiro’s hits from the Japanese Pacific League to his total from MLB he now has 4,257 knocks, which would break Pete Rose’s all-time record. Of course it doesn’t really count since Major League Baseball records can only be set in contests in Major League Baseball games.

However, had he played the entirety of his career in the United States it’s entirely possible Ichiro would have legitimately topped Rose.

In seven seasons in the Japanese Pacific League’s Orix Blue Wave (throwing out a pair of short stints when he was a teenager) Ichiro averaged 177 hits a season. Keep in mind he only played about 130 games a year. In his first year with the Mariners, in 2001, he rolled up 242 hits and proceeded to top 200 knocks for the next nine years after that.

So obviously the dramatically better pitching in MLB was not too big for him. In his 16-year Major League Baseball career Ichiro has averaged exactly 200 hits a season. Take a quick look at how that stacks up against a few other decent hitters from history:

Tony Gwynn = 209 hits/year
Derek Jeter = 204 hits/year
Ichiro Suzuki = 200 hits/year
Rod Carew = 200 hits/year
Wade Boggs = 200 hits/year
Pete Rose = 194 hits/year

That’s some awfully elite company to be in. Rose played for 24 years. With his time in Japan this is Ichiro’s 25th professional season. So while we simply cannot crown him the all-time Major League Baseball hits king we can certainly crown him baseball’s International hits king and have a pretty good idea that, had geography been a little different, the American Big Leagues would have a guy on top the all-time hits list that is actually eligible to have a place in Cooperstown.

As for the game, the Padres got a solid start from rookie Luis Perdomo, who gave up three runs in 6.0 innings to get the win. Perdomo is only in the rotation because Andrew Cashner is on the disabled list but looked like he has the makeup of a legitimate big league starter on Wednesday afternoon.

The Friars were down 3-2 in the 5th inning when they strung some hits together. Matt Kemp singled, Yangervis Solarte doubled, Derek Norris singled, and Melvin Upton Jr. singled … all with two outs … to put three runs on the board and put the Padres up for good.

Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless 9th to earn the save but did give up Ichiro’s (historic?) hit. Rodney has 13 saves and still has not allowed an earned run in a Padres uniform.

San Diego starts a 4-game set against the Nationals on Thursday night in the East Village. Erik Johnson gets the start against Tanner Roark. In the long series the only pitcher in the Nats rotation the Friars will not see is San Diego native Stephen Strasburg.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Hit 4 Home Runs, Lose By 9]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2016 23:45:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*126/GettyImages-540018322.jpg

If a Major League Baseball team hits four home runs in one game it would be natural to assume that team was at least in a position to win at the end.

But in 2016 the Padres don't do things like normal teams do. So let's just rip the band aid off really fast and get this one over with.

The Padres hit four home runs, one each by Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., and Adam Rosales, but they were all solo homers. They had just three other hits while the Marlins pounded out 19 hits in a 13-4 win at Petco Park on Monday night.

San Diego starting pitcher Colin Rea gave up eight runs, although only six were earned, in 2.2 innings to take the loss. Miami scored seven times in the 3rd inning alone.

Drew Pomeranz will try to help the Friars bounce back when he takes the mound on Tuesday night against Marlins starter Tom Koehler.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Sign Top Draft Pick]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2016 16:19:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Cal-Quantrill_032214_BD_54-e1395646633749.jpg

Well, that was fast.

Last Thursday the Padres drafted Stanford pitcher Cal Quantrill with the 8th overall pick in the MLB Draft. On Monday the Padres signed Quantrill to his first professional contract. One of the things that made Quantrill so attractive to teams was signability was not going to be a problem.

“I’d like to get there as soon as I can,” Quantrill told NBC 7 on Friday, the day after he was selected. “I’m ready to play pro ball. We’re going to get it done and I’m excited.”

Quantrill, who gradauted from Stanford with a degree in Engineering, was true to his word. The size of his bonus was not released but the Padres have $12,869,200 in bonus pool money, the third-most in Major League Baseball, to sign their draft class.

Quantrill is coming off elbow reconstruction surgery, which likely scared a few teams off. Quantrill says he’s fully healed and will be ready to get on the mound by the end of June. The Padres had their doctors look at his progress and agreed, so they made the pick.

“He probably would not have gotten to pick eight if he had a healthy junior season,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. “I think we viewed it as an opportunity to get a value at eight that we probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to select if he hadn’t had the surgery.”

Cal will head to Arizona to start work with the Padres player development team soon. When he gets there, he will start to show off the repertoire of pitches that made him one of the best pitchers in the nation.

“I throw four pitches: fastball, changeup, curve ball, slider,” said Quantrill. “The fastball and change are definitely my best pitches right now. The slider is good. The curve ball is coming along. I think I’m a power pitcher; I’m going to throw a lot of strikes and make them swing and miss as often as I can.”

Forget about all that “pitch to contact” stuff. When he’s on the mound Quantrill wants his defense to do as little work as possible.

“I’m trying to strike out every guy I face. If they put in in contact, good for them, but I’m trying to strike out everyone.”

San Diego is also working to sign its other 42 draft picks and expects to have several of them under contract by the middle of the week.



Photo Credit: Bob Drebin / StanfordPhoto.com]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Take Another Sunday Off]]> Sun, 12 Jun 2016 16:07:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-539615328.jpg

This whole “losing every Sunday” thing is getting awfully old.

The last time the Padres won on a Sunday was September 20, 2015, when they beat the Rockies 10-4 at Coors Field. Since then they’ve dropped 12 straight Sunday games, including their latest one back in Colorado.

The Rockies edged the Friars 2-1 on Sunday to take the series from San Diego. In another bit of distressing news the Padres fall to 1-20 in the final games of series in the 2016 season.

Starting pitcher Christian Friedrich did all he could to snap the losing skid. The lefty and former first round pick of the Rockies tossed 6.0 innings, striking out nine and allowing just one unearned run. The Padres got their only run of the game in the 7th inning when Jon Jay singled home Alexei Ramirez to tie it 1-1.

San Diego had nine hits in the game but they came from only four players. Jay had the one hit; Ramirez had two; Derek Norris had a pair and Matt Kemp had three. The Padres had runners on base in the 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th innings and still could muster only one run against Rockies starter Tyler Anderson, who struck out six in 6.1 innings.

Colorado got the only other run they’d need in the 7th inning. Kevin Quackenbush came on to relief Friedrich and things immediately went downhill. Mark Reynolds hit the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for the game-winning home run.

The Padres return home to start a series against the Marlins on Monday night. Colin Rea gets the start against Wei-Yin Chen.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rockies Rough Up Newest Padres Starter]]> Sat, 11 Jun 2016 20:31:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-539493248.jpg

The Padres placed pitcher Andrew Cashner on the 15-day disabled list with a neck strain on Saturday. Manager Andy Green said rookie Luis Perdomo, who stepped in when Cash left Friday's game after just six pitches and went 5.2 innings, would probably step in to the starting rotation.

Another pitcher, Erik Johnson, was added to fill Cashner's roster spot. Johnson, who was acquired a week ago in the trade that sent James Shields to the White Sox, made his Padres debut on Saturday at Coors Field.

This is not the ideal place to get on the mound for your first start for a new team, as Johnson found out in a 5-3 loss to Colorado.

His offense did get him off to a nice start, though. In the 1st inning Yangervis Solarte and Melvin Upton Jr. both drove in runs against Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood to put the Friars up 2-0 before Johnson could even throw his first Padres pitch.

But the lead lasted all of four batters. In the bottom of the first Carlos Gonzalez drilled the first pitch he saw to right field for a three-run home run that put the Rockies on top 3-2. That was a pattern for this game; whenever the Padres scored, the Rockies scored one more.

In the 5th inning San Diego tied it when Jon Jay singled home Alexi Amarista. This time the tie lasted all of one batter. Charlie Blackmon led off the bottom of the 5th with a line drive off the foul pole in right field. Johnson gave up one more run and didn't make it out of the inning.

The Padres still have a chance to win the series on Sunday. Christian Friedrich takes the mound against Tyler Anderson. He'll have to snap a bad, bad streak.

The Padres are 0-9 on Sundays in 2016. Going back to 2015, the Friars have dropped 11 straight games on Sunday. The last time they won on a Sunday was September 20, 2015 ... when they beat the Rockies 10-4 at Coors Field.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Complete 2016 Draft Class]]> Sat, 11 Jun 2016 19:13:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Padres+In+The+Draft+Room+2016.png

The Padres made their final 30 selections in the MLB Draft on Saturday. The breakdown of their full list of 43 draftees by position:

24 Pitchers (16 RHP, 8 LHP)
10 Infielders
7 Outfielders
2 Catchers

The Friars only drafted one player from the San Diego area but he has a familiar name. In the 36th round the Padres took Cathedral Catholic shortstop Quinn Hoffman, the son of soon-to-be Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman.

Quinn recently led the Dons to a CIF championship. Padres General Manager A.J. Preller says the pick was not simply nepotism. Young Hoffy can play the game.

"He's a good baseball player," said Preller. "A guy who can stay in the middle of the infield as a shortstop. He's got really good actions; contact bat; he's a prospect."

The Padres will try to sign him but that will be difficult seeing as how Hoffman has a commitment to play baseball at Harvard and backing away from that kind of education is not easy to do (plus I'm sure his mom and dad will have some input there).

Preller and his team will now start the signing process and hope to start having guys under contract by Monday morning. Here is the list of all the players taken by the Padres in the 2016 MLB Draft:

RD.      PLAYER                  POS.     HT        WT        B/T     SCHOOL
1.      Cal Quantrill (8)        RHP      6-3       195       L/R     Stanford University
1.      Hudson Sanchez (24)      INF      6-2       180       R/R     Carroll High School (TX)
1.      Eric Lauer (25)          LHP      6-3       210       R/L     Kent State University
2.      Buddy Reed (48)          OF       6-4       190       S/R     University of Florida
LOTB.   Reggie Lawson (71)       RHP      6-4       200       R/R     Victor Valley Senior HS (CA)
3.      Mason Thompson (85)      RHP      6-7       205       R/R     Round Rock HS (TX)
4.      Joseph Lucchesi          LHP      6-5       220       L/L     Southeast Missouri State University
5.      Lake Bachar              RHP      6-2       205       R/R     University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
6.      Will Stillman            RHP      6-4       180       R/R     Wofford University
7.      Dan Dallas               LHP      6-2       195       R/L     Canisius High School (NY)
8.      Benjamin Sheckler        LHP      6-8       240       L/L     Cornerstone University
9.      Jesse Scholtens          RHP      6-4       235       R/R     Wright State University
10.      Boomer White            INF      5-10      195       R/R     Texas A&M University
11.      Trevyne Carter          OF       6-2       181       L/R     Soddy Daisy High School (TN)
12.      Jamie Sara              RHP      6-3       200       R/R     West Potomac High School (VA)
13.      Joe Galindo             RHP      6-4       225       R/R     New Mexico State University
14.      Jared Poche             LHP      6-1       205       R/L     Louisiana State University
15.      Jack Suwinski           CF       6-2       195       L/L     William Howard Taft High School (IL)
16.      Chris Mattison          C        6-4       215       R/R     Southeastern University
17.      Chris Baker             SS       6-1       180       R/R     University of Washington
18.      Jaquez Williams         1B       6-3       215       L/R     East Coweta High School (GA)
19.      AJ Brown                CF       6-2       210       R/R     Starkville High School (MS)
20.      Dom DiSabatino          RHP      6-5       190       R/R     Harford Community College (MD)
21.      Taylor Kohlwey          OF       6-3       200       L/L     University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
22.      Evan Miller             RHP      6-1       180       R/R     Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne
23.      Nate Easley             2B       5-10      170       R/R     Yavapai College
24.      Hunter Bishop           CF       6-4       205       L/R     Junipero Serra High School (CA)
25.      Luis Anguizola          C        5-11      210       R/R     Loyola University – New Orleans
26.      Grae Kessinger          SS       6-1       180       R/R     Oxford High School (MS)
27.      Chasen Ford             RHP      6-3       215       R/R     Yale University
28.      Ethan Skender           SS       5-11      175       R/R     State College of Florida, Manatee – Sarasota
29.      Collin Sullivan         RHP      6-1       190       R/R     Ft. Pierce Central High School (FL)
30.      Dalton Erb              RHP      6-8       250       R/R     California State University, Chico
31.      George Young            1B       6-1       225       L/R     Coastal Carolina University
32.      Ariel Burgos Garcia     RHP      6-0       185       S/R     Northern Oklahoma College
33.      Mark Zimmerman          RHP      6-0       195       L/R     Baldwin-Wallace College
34.      Denzell Gowdy           3B       5-11      185       R/R     Darton College (GA)
35.      David Bednar            RHP      6-1       205       L/R     Lafayette College (PA)
36.      Quinn Hoffman           SS       5-10      155       R/R     Cathedral Catholic, High School (CA)
37.      Ryan Rolison            LHP      6-2       195       R/L     University School of Jackson (TN)
38.      Will Solomon            LHP      6-2       210       L/L     Georgia Gwinnett College
39.      Jeffrey Bradley         OF       6-3       185       L/L     A. Crawford Mosley High School (FL)
40.      Chris Burica            LHP      6-6       210       L/L     Orange Lutheran High School (CA)

]]>
<![CDATA[Myers Leads Padres to Comeback Win]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 22:18:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-539323428.jpg

In his first three Major League seasons Wil Myers never hit more than 13 home runs. Of course, he never played more than 88 games, mostly because of injuries.

Now that he’s healthy, Myers is terrorizing big league pitching. The Padres first baseman hit a 3-run home run in the top of the 9th inning to lead San Diego to a 7-5 win over the Rockies in Colorado. It’s the latest installment of Myer’s run of offensive gluttony.

Over his last 10 games, Myers is hitting .439 with six home runs and 15 RBI. Through 60 games Wil has already tied that career-high of 13 home runs and shows no signs of slowing down.

His heroics took a long time to set up. The night did not start well for the Padres. After just six pitches, starting pitcher Andrew Cashner left the game due to tightness in his back and neck. Padres Manager Andy Green said Cash will be evaluated by a doctor on Saturday.

In came rookie Luis Perdomo, who was a game-saver for the Friars. Perdomo allowed three earned runs in 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts and threw a career-high 100 pitches. Perdomo was able to get the Padres through the 6th inning down by just one run.

The Rockies added one more in the 8th inning and took a 5-3 lead to the top of the 9th inning. Jake McGee came in to save it for Colorado and got the first two outs before the proverbial wheels flew off.

Alexei Ramirez and Alexi Amarista singled, bringing Jon Jay to the plate. The Federalist lofted a fly ball to left field that hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. It looked like the Padres caught a rough break because only one run was allowed to score. Had the ball stayed in the park Amarista likely would have come home to tie it up.

As it turned out, that didn’t matter. Myers followed with a 453-foot blast that turned out to be the game-winning hit. Padres closer Fernando Rodney tossed a perfect 9th inning for his 12th save of the year. Rodney still has not allowed an earned run this season.

Game two of the series is Saturday at Coors Field. Erik Johnson, who was recently acquired from the White Sox in the trade for James Shields, makes his Padres debut on the mound against Tyler Chatwood.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Go Heavy on Arms in MLB Draft]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 21:18:36 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Padres+Draft+Room.png

You may have heard that old baseball cliché "pitching wins championships." I don't know if that's entirely true, but if it is the Padres are putting themselves in one heck of a position to win about 50 titles.

San Diego’s professional baseball team made eight selections on the second day of the Major League Baseball Draft. The first seven of them were pitchers, giving the Friars 10 arms in their first 13 picks.

They started the day by taking right-hander Mason Thompson from Round Rock HS in Texas. Like their first round selection Cal Quantrill, Thompson is coming off elbow reconstruction surgery but scouts love his measurables.

Thompson was projected to be a first round pick before his Tommy John procedure. The 6-foot-7 right-hander was already throwing in the low-90’s when he pitched for Team USA in the Pan-American games, beating Cuba to win the gold medal.

“Mason, there’s a lot to like,” said Padres General Manager A.J. Preller. “He has a big body, he’s really long. We tracked him all year. Getting to get a feel for where he was in the rehab process. We felt like it was an opportunity to get a guy who definitely would not have been in that spot had he had a healthy season.”

The Padres proceeded to take six more pitchers and all of them are large human beings. The smallest of the bunch is 7th rounder Dan Dallas, a lefty from Canisius High School who’s 6-foot-2 and weighs 195 pounds. When it comes to starting pitchers, the Padres like to look for guys who can withstand the rigors of a 162-game season.

“It definitely helps,” said Preller. “It’s a long season. I think having big, strong, physical, athletic people who are playing the game is a positive. It’s a good place to start. It always helps when we’re scouting a player.”

They finally grabbed a position player, infielder Boomer White from Texas A&M, with their 10th-round pick. Here’s the Padres full draft so far:

Rd.       Name              Pos.      (Ht.)    (Wt.)    Bat/Throw     School
1)    Cal Quantrill          RHP      6-3       195       L/R      Stanford University
1)    Hudson Sanchez    INF       6-2       180       R/R         Carroll High School
1)    Eric Lauer             LHP       6-3       210       R/L     Kent State University
2)    Buddy Reed          OF       6-4       190       S/R         University of Florida
LOT B) Reggie Lawson  RHP      6-4       200       R/R              Victor Valley Senior HS
3)    Mason Thompson  RHP      6-7       205       R/R               Round Rock HS
4)    Joseph Lucchesi    LHP       6-5       220       L/L      Southeast Missouri State University
5)    Lake Bachar          RHP      6-2       205       R/R      University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
6)    Will Stillman          RHP      6-4       180       R/R     Wofford University
7)    Dan Dallas            LHP       6-2       195       R/L    Canisius High School
8)    Benjamin Sheckler  LHP       6-8       240       L/L       Cornerstone University
9)    Jesse Scholtens     RHP      6-4       235       R/R       Wright State University
10)    Boomer White     INF      5-10      195       R/R        Texas A&M University

The 2016 MLB Draft will conclude on Saturday with rounds 11-40, so the Friars will add 30 more players to the mix.

]]>
<![CDATA[Braves Snap Long Losing Skid Against the Padres]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 15:46:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-538832052.jpg

Padres 1st baseman Wil Myers hit a pair of tape measure home runs but his output was the entirety of the offense in a 4-2 loss to the Braves. The win was a long time coming for Atlanta, who had lost 12 straight games at Petco Park.

San Diego starter Drew Pomeranz, who has been dominant with a 0.74 ERA at home this year, was shaky from the beginning. Four of the first five Braves he faced reached base and two of them scored to put Atlanta up 2-0. Overall Pomeranz was not too bad, allowing three runs 5.0 innings while striking out six.

His counterpart, Braves starter Julio Teheran, was stellar against everyone in the Padres lineup except Myers. Teheran went 8.0 innings, allowing just three singles aside from the two Myers homers.

San Diego has an off day on Thursday then starts a 3-game series in Colorado against the Rockies on Friday night.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Padres MLB Draft Preview]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 14:16:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AJ_Preller_on_the_Padres_Draft_Philosophy_1200x675_701612099807.jpg

The MLB Draft starts on Thursday evening. Although he has been with San Diego since August of 2014 general manager A.J. Preller has yet to exercise a first round pick with the Padres.

He arrived after the draft two years ago and last year the Friars didn’t make a choice until the 2nd Round when they took high school pitcher Austin Smith with the 51st overall selection. This year things are very, very different.

San Diego has three picks in the first round alone (8th, 24th, 25th) and six selections in the top 85. This is a golden opportunity for the Friars to build the kind of organizational depth they’ve been talking about for years.

“If you look back historically, usually the best drafts are the drafts where teams have had multiple picks,” said Preller. “It’s part of what we talked about last off-season when we lost some players who might have draft pick compensation attached to them. We have to make that work.”

This is the first time we get to see Preller’s real draft strategy at work. He plans to draft talent, not for need.

“Philosophically we’re going to go with the best player available when we make a selection,” said Preller. “Baseball is such a different deal than football and the NFL. Even the good college players, it might take them some time to develop in the minor leagues so we’re not going to draft for need or anything like that.”

Preller says the Padres organization has several intriguing pitching prospects in Single-A, specifically at Fort Wayne, and a crop of run-producing position players at Triple-A El Paso. But the middle level, Double-A San Antonio, is a little light on talent the team believes can someday make an impact in the Major Leagues. That can change if the right decisions are made this week.

“With the six picks in the top 85 you want to maximize this. You want to add to that current core that we’re building at the minor league level and this year with the six picks and what we’re trying to do in the minor leagues I think this year it probably does increase the level of importance.”

As for the type of players they’ll be targeting, expect to see a lot of young arms and outfielders.

“The strength of the draft is probably high school pitching,” said Mark Conner, the Padres Director of Scouting. “It’s not extremely top-heavy but there’s a lot of quality depth throughout it. There are [also] a lot of outfielders across the country in the college and high school ranks. Those are the strongest areas.”

When it’s all said and done 1,216 players will be selected in this year’s MLB Draft. The Friars will be making the 1,194th overall selection so they need to have a whole bunch of scouting reports to be prepared.

“We have about 820-840 players turned in from our scouts,” said Conner. “Everyone has a scouting report, multiple evaluations, background work done from our scouts. We have a Big Board that has 111 players on it right now and other boards that have depth throughout the country with those 820 other guys.”

Out of that whole group the Padres will make 43 picks, then hope just one or two of them can turn in to difference-makers a few years down the road.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Edge Rockies, Win Series]]> Sat, 04 Jun 2016 22:46:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-538135850.jpg

Baseball is a funny game. The Padres spent the first part of their week getting throttled by the Mariners and their owner. They have a chance to spend the last part of their week sweeping a division rival.

The Friars beat the Rockies 4-3 on Saturday night at Petco Park. There was a good vibe right from the first inning when Wil Myers, the second batter of the game, hit his 9th home run of the season to left-center field to put San Diego up 1-0.

Colorado took the lead right back in the top of the 2nd when Charlie Blackmon hit a 2-out double off starting pitcher Andrew Cashner to bring in a pair of runs. Cashner has had trouble getting back on track when things start heading south but he was able to right the ship on Saturday. Cash gave the up three runs in 5.2 innings to get his first win in a month (also against the Rockies).

It helped that his offense got him the lead right back. In the bottom of the 2nd Derek Norris ripped a 2-run homer to left, his 6th homer of the year. Norris and Myers combined to go 5-for-8 with a pair of homers, three RBI and two runs scored.

In the third inning Matt Kemp padded his team RBI lead with a single to bring in Jon Jay with what turned out to be the game-winning run.

After Cashner left the Padres bullpen, which has been less-than-stellar of late, came up big. Kevin Quackenbush, back from a stint at Triple-A El Paso, threw 1.1 innings with three punchouts. In the 8th inning Padres Manager Andy Green made good on his promise to make changes to the way he’s utilizing his bullpen.

Brandon Maurer allowed a single to Nick Hundley but struck out the next hitter. With Blackmon, a dangerous left-handed hitter, coming up Green went to the mound and pulled Maurer. In the past he likely would have let his 8th inning specialist try and finish up but this time he went to the closer.

Fernando Rodney got out of the inning then tossed a perfect 9th to get his 11th save of the season. Rodney still has not allowed an earned run in 2016.

The Padres can sweep the Rockies on Sunday behind … well, a whole lot of people. James Shields was the scheduled starter but since he’s now a member of the White Sox organization the Friars will go with Luis Perdomo, get as much out of him as they can, and start using up arms. It's the same process they used in Milwaukee in a win over the Brewers earlier this year.

Keep in mind the game starts at 6:10 because the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon will be run in San Diego on Sunday morning.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres GM: "We Haven't Been Good Enough"]]> Sat, 04 Jun 2016 20:39:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AJ_Preller_on_Winning_Now_While_Building_an_Organization_1200x675_699209283530.jpg

The Padres have not been to the playoffs since 2006. They also haven’t had a home-grown position player make any kind of significant impact since … well I’m actually not sure. Probably Benito Santiago, who was signed as an international free agent in 1982 and made a splash in San Diego in 1987 when he was named the NL Rookie of the Year.

So the Friars need fixing on two fronts: the Major League level and the minor league level. That means General Manager A.J. Preller is trying to multi-task.

While he’d like to build a contender right now, he still has to be conscious of making sure he re-stocks the farm. Make no mistake … it is a difficult line to walk, as we saw in 2015.

“When we went to the last off-season and we made the moves that we made we felt like we had some talent in the room that we wanted to build around and take a chance,” said Preller on Saturday after trading starting pitcher James Shields to the White Sox for a pair of prospects. “It wasn’t necessarily that we were saying this is all in on this one year, period. It was more of a situation where it was hey, look, let’s see if we can take a shot and compete and contend and win knowing that if that didn’t work out, at a point down the road we had the ability to pump the brakes and go in a different direction. We were going to have some assets that were attractive to other clubs.”

It was the latter that transpired so Preller went with Plan B, trading closer Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox for a treasure trove of young talent and sending Joaquin Benoit to the Mariners for two more prospects. Then for 2016 they continued with the same philosophy, adding a few veteran pieces like shortstop Alexei Ramirez and outfielder Jon Jay in hopes they would get off to a great start and be in contention.

“We wanted to take advantage of the starters that we had. We wanted to get some excitement and see if we could put a contending club on the field.”

Again, that did not happen. Again, it was time to start parting with established players and bulking up in other areas.

“When you don’t go down there, then you’ve got to make decisions and that’s what led to [Saturday's trade of James Shields to the White Sox for two prospects].”

It must be noted that in their first run at a MLB contender in 2015 Preller gutted the Padres system, parting with most of their better prospects. In repurposing their big league talent the Friars have, by many accounts, actually bolstered their future with more higher-ceiling players (most notably Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot, both from the Kimbrel trade) in the minor leagues.

“Probably the biggest thing is we haven’t been good enough,” said Preller. “We haven’t been good enough as a group, as a team, as an organization. We talk about it a lot; it’s just building towards a championship-level organization.”

The next chance to strengthen the system comes this week in the MLB Draft and this will be the first time we get to see how Preller attacks it. He arrived in August of 2014, missing the Draft by a couple of months, and a year ago the Friars did not have a first round pick.

This time around the Padres pick 8th, 24th, 25th, 48th, 71st and 85th. That’s three selections in the first round and a tremendous opportunity to truly start building a perennial contender. The Yankees know a thing or two about that.

Between 1990 and 1992 New York drafted 204 players. Only a handful of them actually made it to the Majors in a Yankees uniform and most had little to no impact. However, three of them were Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter. In 1990 they also signed an international amateur free agent by the name of Mariano Rivera.

You don’t have to hit on all your picks. You just have to hit on a few and all of a sudden you have a dynasty on your hands. The Padres have a chance to find a few domestic superstars and are expected to go big on the international market when that signing period opens in July. If Preller is able to find just a couple of those difference-makers, he won’t have to worry about multi-tasking anymore.

The Major League portion of the task would be in perpetual good hands.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Trade Shields To Chicago]]> Sat, 04 Jun 2016 18:15:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-532931180.jpg

James Shields has made the final start of his career with the San Diego Padres.

The Friars traded Shields to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, just days after Executive Chairman Ron Fowler put his highest-paid pitcher in the crosshairs of a “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” rant that was heard all across the baseball world.

“To have a starter like Shields perform as poorly as he did is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him,” Fowler said.

The trade rumors were swirling around Shields even before he gave up 10 runs in 2.2 innings against the Mariners in Seattle and coaxed the response from Fowler. That one start, however, did not scare of the White Sox, who needed another starting pitcher with experience. Chicago is also getting some cash from the Padres to offset the $21 million Shields is owed each year through 2018.

In exchange Chicago is sending over 26-year-old right-hander Erik Johnson and 17-year-old infielder Fernando Tatis Jr.

Johnson has gone 7-6 with a 4.50 ERA and 77 strikeouts and 49 walks over 18 Major League starts across parts of four seasons. He’s made a pair of starts for the Sox this year and will likely be added immediately to the Padres starting rotation.

Tatis Jr. is only 17 years old and was signed by the White Sox as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic last July.  He’s the son of former Major League infielder Fernando Tatis, who played for 11 years in the big leagues with the Rangers, Cardinals, Expos, Orioles, and Mets.  Tatis Jr. has yet to make his professional playing debut but according to Baseball America shows the potential to be a power source at 3rd base or a corner outfield spot.

Shields was given the largest free agent contract in Padres history, a 4-year, $75 million deal, before the start of the 2015 season but never had the impact on the pitching staff the team was hoping for. In a year and a half with the Friars he had a 15-14 record with a 4.01 ERA in 44 starts.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Rebound, Beat Rockies]]> Fri, 03 Jun 2016 23:53:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-537966144.jpg

On Thursday night the Padres became the first team in seven years to lose a game they led by 10 runs. How do you come back the next day and play after a meltdown like that? Manager Andy Green had a good feeling before Friday night's game against the Rockies.

“I was thrilled to see the upbeat, positive attitude I felt in the clubhouse today when I got in,” said Green before the opener of the three game series against Colorado. “I didn’t feel any people hanging heads. Obviously nobody wanted that game to play out the way it did yesterday. What I see in the guys right now is we’ve got the Rockies in town and we resolve to go beat them.”

I give these guys full marks for having a really short memory.

The Friars rebounded for a 4-0 win over Colorado. If getting off to a good start was important, San Diego did just that against starter Chris Rusin.

Jon Jay singled (his 10th hit in the last three games) and Wil Myers reached on an error, setting the table for Matt Kemp to turn a baseball in to a projectile.

Kemp ripped a 458-foot, 3run home run to put the Padres on top 3-0. They padded their lead in the 4th inning. With the bases loaded and pitcher Drew Pomeranz at the plate Melvin Upton Jr. took advantage of Rusin’s slow delivery, breaking from 3rd base and scoring on a straight steal.

Upton is the first Padre to steal home since Everth Cabrera did it against the Dodgers in 2012. The extra run was nice but not necessary.

Pomeranz continued the “bounce back” theme with a great outing. After getting roughed up for six runs in 5.0 innings in Arizona, he came back to a place he loves to pitch.

Pomeranz tossed 7.0 shutout innings, allowing just a pair of hits and striking out eight. Check out his numbers in four starts at Petco Park this year:

3-1 record
0.74 ERA
28 K

That’s not too shabby and since the All-Star Game is at Petco Park manager Terry Collins is probably going to take a good, long look at adding the San Diego lefty to his staff for the Midsummer Classic.

The Padres can win the series on Saturday night when Andrew Cashner takes the mound against Chad Bettis.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Changes Coming to Padres Bullpen]]> Fri, 03 Jun 2016 19:42:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/GettyImages-537750884.jpg

The Padres bullpen has been overworked this season. Only the Diamondbacks relievers have thrown more innings in 2016 than the Friars have, and only by 1.0 inning. But recently the Padres‘ pen has been abysmal.

The relief corps was going south even before their historic meltdown on Thursday night when the bullpen allowed 10 runs. Padres relievers had allowed 13 runs in the previous three games (all against the Mariners), and the downward trend has Manager Andy Green pulling a few strings.

“I think we’ll see some changes,” said Green. “I think we’ll see some guys in different roles going forward.”

So, on the brink of a 3-game series against the Rockies at Petco Park, what exactly does that mean?

“You’ll see it evolve in time and be able to draw your conclusions from what you see,” said Green.

At this point he almost HAS to try something. The Padres bullpen ERA has shot up to 5.06, the third-worst in Major League Baseball. This is a franchise that for years, especially since their Downtown ballpark opened, has relied on a dominant bullpen to win games. For long stretches this year that simply has not been the case but Green does not think the problem is terminal.

“I don’t think it’s a long-term loss of faith in anybody. I think it’s a short-term design to regain confidence in some of our relievers to put them in positions to succeed.”

Does that mean the skipper needs to regain confidence in the guys in the bullpen or that he wants to let the relievers regain confidence in themselves? And which one would be more problematic?

“I have confidence in them,” said Green. “I think it’s for themselves. I think you put guys in positions sometimes where they get a different opportunity and, sometimes, a softer landing for a bit. Get them out of the high-leverage role for a short period of time. After that occurs they regain their confidence, they find their footing again and they’re off to the races throwing the ball well again.”

Green fully expects the guys who get re-shuffled to at some point return to the roles they were in. Until then, we’ll see if the creativity works.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mariners Hammer Padres in Seattle]]> Mon, 30 May 2016 16:07:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-535911634.jpg

If the Padres are looking for a slogan for this season, here’s a suggestion …
“2016: The Season of Squandered Opportunities”
San Diego had chances to win the first game of their Vedder Cup series against the Mariners in Seattle but failed to capitalize and lost 4-2 at Safeco Field.
The Friars got on the board in the second inning of their Interleague series by playing old-school National League baseball. Melvin Upton Jr. singled, stole second and scored on a single by Christian Bethancourt, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter.
In the 6th the Padres had a chance to do some big-time damage. Matt Kemp led off with a double and Yangervis Solarte reached on a throwing error by Seattle starter Nathan Karns. With two runners on and nobody out Upton hit one hard right at 1st baseman Dae-Ho Lee, who started a double play while Kemp went to 3rd.
The Padres got another gift run when Brett Wallace’s fly ball down the left field line was dropped by Seth Smith. It was ruled an RBI double, giving the Padres a 2-0 lead. Bethancourt lined out to right field and what started as an inning with big promise turned in to a bit of a dud.
Right after that, the Mariners took full control of the game. Padres starter Andrew Cashner took a shutout in to the 6th inning but when things start to go wrong Cash has struggled to get them going to other way again. Nori Aoki reached on a catcher’s interference call, the third on the Padres this season already.
Smith followed with a double to centerfield that brought home Aoki from 1st to get the Mariners on the board and cut the lead to 2-1. Cashner got Robinson Cano to fly out but with two outs he could not figure out a way to end an inning. Nelson Cruz smoked a single up the middle to plate Smith with the tying run then left a ball over the plate to Kyle Seager.
That was a bad choice. Seager popped it just over the wall in right-centerfield for a 2-run home run. It looked for a moment like right Kemp had a chance to bring it back in the yard but his leap sent him straight in to the top of the wall and his glove never got high enough to make the catch.
The lead stayed 4-2 until the 8th when Brandon Maurer came out of the bullpen and got lit up. Maurer issued a walk to Cano, gave up a double to Cruz, and intentionally walked Seager to load the bases with one out. Adam Lind singled home two runs to make it 6-2 before Lee went deep for a 3-run dinger, the final runs of the game.
The Padres play one more in Seattle before coming back to Petco Park for two more against the Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday. James Shields gets the start on Tuesday, as long as he’s not traded before first pitch at 12:40 in the afternoon.

If the Padres are looking for a slogan for this season, here’s a suggestion …

“2016: The Season of Squandered Opportunities”

San Diego had chances to take control of the first game of their Vedder Cup series against the Mariners in Seattle but failed to capitalize early, then watched the M's offense erupt late and run off with a 9-3 win at Safeco Field.

The Friars got on the board in the second inning of their Interleague series by playing old-school National League baseball. Melvin Upton Jr. singled, stole second and scored on a single by Christian Bethancourt, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter.

In the 6th the Padres had a chance to do some big-time damage. Matt Kemp led off with a double and Yangervis Solarte reached on a throwing error by Seattle starter Nathan Karns. With two runners on and nobody out Upton hit one hard right at 1st baseman Dae-Ho Lee, who started a double play while Kemp went to 3rd.

The Padres got another gift run when Brett Wallace’s fly ball down the left field line was dropped by Seth Smith. It was ruled an RBI double, giving the Padres a 2-0 lead. Bethancourt lined out to right field and what started as an inning with big promise turned in to a bit of a dud.

Right after that, the Mariners took full control of the game. Padres starter Andrew Cashner took a shutout in to the 6th inning but when things start to go wrong Cash has struggled to get them going to other way again. Nori Aoki reached on a catcher’s interference call, the third on the Padres this season already.

Smith followed with a double to centerfield that brought home Aoki from 1st to get the Mariners on the board and cut the lead to 2-1. Cashner got Robinson Cano to fly out but with two outs he could not figure out a way to end an inning. Nelson Cruz smoked a single up the middle to plate Smith with the tying run then left a ball over the plate to Kyle Seager.

That was a bad choice. Seager popped it just over the wall in right-centerfield for a 2-run home run. It looked for a moment like right Kemp had a chance to bring it back in the yard but his leap sent him straight in to the top of the wall and his glove never got high enough to make the catch.

The lead stayed 4-2 until the 8th when Brandon Maurer came out of the bullpen and got lit up. Maurer issued a walk to Cano, gave up a double to Cruz, and intentionally walked Seager to load the bases with one out. Adam Lind singled home two runs to make it 6-2 before Lee went deep for a 3-run dinger to put it completely out of reach.

The Padres play one more in Seattle before coming back to Petco Park for two more against the Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday. James Shields gets the start on Tuesday, as long as he’s not traded before first pitch at 12:40 in the afternoon.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Flowers Trying To Bounce Back in 2016]]> Mon, 30 May 2016 15:05:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-496454096.jpg

By all accounts … most importantly his own … Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers had a truly awful season in 2015.

Statistically speaking (numbers from the advanced statistical website Pro Football Focus) Flowers was not only bad in coverage, he was bad in run support and bad in not breaking the rules. Flowers ranked in the bottom 10 of all NFL corners in performance and averaged better than half a penalty a game, making him one of the most frequently penalized defensive backs in the league.

When his season came to an end after suffering a knee injury against the Broncos is December, Flowers knew he had to make some changes heading in to 2016.

“I definitely had a different grind this off-season knowing where I had to get to,” said Flowers. “I just put myself there, knowing where I have to be physically and mentally, and then just shot for it and I’m there now.”

Flowers got there by making some diet changes and going to a new trainer. He says his knee, which had bothered him since the season-opening win against the Lions, is no longer a concern. It’s healed, partially because now it has to support less weight.

“I can’t tell you how I approached it, I just had to get whatever I was dealing with behind me and just move on. It’s a new year, new everything.”

Flowers admits he had off-field issues that he allowed to follow him to the field on Sundays. Now that he’s in better shape that revitalized body comes with a revitalized mind.

“Mentally [2015] is wiped out. Like a Men in Black switch, I can just knock it out. As long as my body and my health are feeling good I’m ready to go.”

Flowers has stated his goal is to return to the Pro Bowl, a place he went in 2013. That was his final year in Kansas City. In 2014 he played well enough with the Chargers to earn a 4-year, $36.4 million contract. Last year was the first year of that deal and Flowers is well aware of the fact he did not live up to it.

Now he’s looking to return to being among the best DB’s in the NFL, and he thinks he has the pieces around him to get there. Jason Verrett has become a Pro Bowler himself and the Bolts brought in a few players that have helped Flowers redouble his efforts.

“We added another ball hawk, Casey Hayward, to the secondary. Dwight Lowery’s back there, this guy’s a veteran. We added some nice pieces. I just can’t wait to go and play another team already.”

The Chargers defense forced just 20 turnovers last year. Only eight teams were worse at taking the ball away from their opponents. Flowers did not intercept a pass for the first time in his career. Ditto Eric Weddle, who has moved on to Baltimore.

Before last season Flowers averaged about three interceptions a year. If he can return to that average while Verrett continues to improve on the three he had in 2015 … Hayward adds his career average of two per year … Lowery continues his career average of two per year … grab a couple more from Stevie Williams, who had a pair of picks in 2015 … maybe even have safety Jahleel Addae get the first pick of his career … and sprinkle in a few from linebackers like Manti Te’o … the Bolts could have as many interceptions in 2016 as they had total takeaways in 2015.

Sure, it’s a lot to ask for. But that improvement alone basically guarantees they finish with a record better than 4-12.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How The Vedder Cup Came To Be]]> Mon, 30 May 2016 12:49:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/GettyImages-490195308.jpg

The Padres and Mariners start baseball’s version of a home-and-home series on Monday afternoon in Seattle. You may know it as the Vedder Cup.

Since my Mother-in-Law asked why I was so excited about the Vedder Cup and what the heck it was, it struck me that a lot of people don’t know the rich history of the event. So here’s a quick look at how this annual West Coast slugfest came to be.

When baseball finally came out of the Dark Ages and started Interleague Play in 1997 then-Commissioner Bud Selig declared a 15 pairs of “natural rivals.” Most of them make perfect sense. For example, the Dodgers and Angels, the Giants and A’s, the Mets and Yankees all have obvious geographic ties that make the yearly meeting a real rivalry.

Even some of the series that aren’t terribly close to one another like the Phillies and Red Sox are at least fought between two rabid East Coast sports towns with a history of disliking one another (the 76ers and Celtics have long been at each other’s throats, especially in the playoffs). But when the Padres and Mariners were put together as “natural rivals” we were left to wonder … what exactly do we have to rival about?

It could be seafood or craft beer but there’s really no way to ever fully determine which city offers better edibles. That’s open to interpretation. Therefore we needed a symbol. Something the two cities can lay claim to in equal measure. Obviously, the choice is Eddie Vedder.

The Pearl Jam front man went to high school in Encinitas at San Dieguito High School Academy and of course formed his famous band in Seattle. So while Vedder learned music in So-Cal he perfected in the Pacific Northwest. So far the Mariners lead the all-time series 47-43 so this is truly one of the most hotly-contested of all the “natural rivals.”

There is no physical Vedder Cup trophy like there is a Stanley Cup or a Davis Cup but darnit there should be! That way the winner would be able to hold aloft the prize like an axe or a bell or a jug, signifying by Divine Providence which extreme coastal town located farther apart than any other “natural rivals” is king of the baseball world!

THAT is why the Vedder Cup is so awesomely important and why the next four games might be the only chance for the Padres to actually win something of note this season. PLAY BALL!

(P.S. – Eddie Vedder is a Cubs fan but I’m sure he’s cool with this)



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Global Citizen]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Drop Series in Phoenix]]> Mon, 30 May 2016 15:13:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-535431080.jpg

If you were going to make a bet based on a pitching matchup you probably would have put a whole lot of cash on the Padres on Sunday. They were sending Drew Pomeranz, the man with the 2nd-best earned run average in the Major Leagues, to the hill against Diamondbacks youngster Archie Bradley, who was called up from Triple-A Reno just before the game.

Alas, that would have been a losing proposition. Pomeranz, the guy who had given up three runs total over in his last five starts, got rocked for six runs in 5.0 innings in a 6-3 Arizona win at Chase Field. Pomeranz surrendered all six runs in the first two innings before settling in and striking out seven of the next 11 batters he faced.

Arizona did the bulk of its damage in the 2nd. Chris Owings led off with a home run. After that the Diamondbacks got a walk, a single, another single, and a wild pitch before Pomeranz finally got the first out on a Jean Segura groundout. Arizona got another run on a fielder’s choice but with two outs Paul Goldschmidt hammered a two-run double to cap a five run inning, which alone would have been enough to win the game.

Bradley, who was just named the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week, continued his hot streak against a lineup that probably didn’t look much more intimidating than the ones he faced in the PCL. The 23-year-old allowed three runs in 7.1 innings and struck out nine Padres hitters in his best big league start.

One positive for the Padres was shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who hit his first home run in a San Diego uniform. The solo homer in the 5th inning cut the lead to 6-2. The Friars got their final run in the 8th inning on an RBI groundout by Wil Myers.

The Padres travel to Seattle to start a four game home-and-home series (two at Safeco Field, two at Petco Park) against the Mariners. Andrew Cashner gets the start against Nathan Karns in the opening game of the Vedder Cup.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trading James Shields Makes a Lot of Sense]]> Sun, 29 May 2016 09:53:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-520268622.jpg

NBC 7's Derek Togerson looks at a potentially huge trade by the Padres in this commentary

Padres General Manager AJ Preller is always looking to try and do things he thinks will improve the organization. He’s not necessarily looking to improve the current big league club; he has eyes on the entire franchise, from top to bottom.

So when we see published reports that Preller is in serious trade talks to deal one of his best pitchers it might not be in the best interest of the 2016 Padres but could be the best course of action in the grand scheme.

Preller is reportedly having heated discussions with the White Sox to send starting pitcher James Shields to Chicago (and apparently other teams have started working the phone with AJ as well). The Sox are in contention in the American League Central and could really use another reliable arm in the rotation, and that is exactly what Shields is.

Shields has gone at least 6.0 innings in every start this year and is in the midst of a fantastic May. In five starts this month James has pitched to a 2.56 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 10 walks. Those are certainly the kinds of numbers that fit well in the middle of a big league rotation. The problem for the Padres is those other kinds of numbers.

Shields is making $21 million a year through 2018 and the Friars would love to free up some payroll. In fact, that would likely be the most appealing part of the trade, even more than any prospects the Friars would get in return.

The Padres would likely have to send a little cash to Chicago or any other team that makes a deal for Shields having his contract off the books would be worth it if for no other reason than it will help ease any fear about spending big this summer on young players, both in the draft and international market.

San Diego is one of a handful of teams expected to spend well beyond their allotted international bonus pool when the signing period opens in July and reportedly has commitments from three of this year’s top 10 players, all of them commanding seven figure bonuses. Preller’s history shows he’s a wizard with scouting international players, especially from Latin America, so a spending spree in the Dominican Republic and Cuba makes a lot of sense.

Although the Ron Fowler-led ownership group has said time and again the Padres are no longer hesitant to spend money the financial reality of baseball still puts them in the category of "small market team" so if they're going to go after a fresh crop of players having one less monster contract on the books makes the effort a lot more palatable.

As for who will take over the spot in the rotation, there are a few candidates. Colin Rea will be available for a recall soon, veteran Jeremy Guthrie has made 10 starts for Triple-A El Paso, and former reliever Frank Garces was recently moved in to the starting rotation with the Chihuahuas to start stretching him out.

Of course that would give the Padres a starting rotation of Andrew Cashner, Drew Pomeranz, Cesar Vargas, Christian Friedrich, and one of the above-mentioned men, which is not exactly how they drew it up at the start of Spring Training.

While moving Shields might look like the start of a fire sale (and Padres fans are rightfully a bit sensitive to that kind of thing), in this situation it’s probably the right thing to do.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Rally Falls Short in Arizona]]> Sat, 28 May 2016 22:56:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-535100296.jpg

The Padres are reportedly talking with the White Sox about a trade for starting pitcher James Shields. The Friars would like to shed that $21 million salary and get a few prospects back.

They also would not mind parting ways with outfielder Matt Kemp and all of a sudden he might be building some trade value. In the first inning of Saturday night’s game against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, Kemp went big fly for the second straight game, this time against his old Dodgers teammate Zack Greinke. His blast put the Padres up 1-0 but the lead only lasted about 10 minutes.

In the bottom of the first, Jeremy Lamb singled in a couple of runs off San Diego starter Cesar Vargas to put the Diamondbacks up 2-1. In the 2nd inning Kemp showed why he would be awfully appealing to an American League team looking for a designated hitter. For him defense is not just a job, it’s an adventure.

With the bases loaded Jean Segura lofted a fly ball down the right field line where Kemp made a nice sliding catch. However, he proceeded to get up and make a wild throw to the plate instead of hitting the cutoff man, allowing two other runners to advance in to scoring position and removing the possibility of an inning-ending double play.

Sure enough Michael Bourne followed with a single to bring in two runs and put the DBacks up 5-1 and the next batter, Paul Goldshmidt, turned a baseball in to Jell-O. He hit a two-run laser to left to put Arizona up 7-1.

But give the Padres credit for chipping away. In the 9th inning Arizona’s lead was 8-4 when Yangervis Solarte and Melvin Upton Jr. singled. Derek Norris pounded one down off the plate and the ball took a huge hop. Pitcher Brad Ziegler tried to rush the throw and it went wide, allowing Solarte to score and cut the lead to 8-5.

Hector Sanchez stepped in to pinch-hit and lined a 2-run single to right and suddenly the Padres had the go-ahead run at the plate with one out. Problem is, that run was in the form of Alexi Amarista, who grounded in to a game-ending double play.

Arizona escaped with a 8-7 win but the Padres can win the series on Sunday afternoon when Drew Pomeranz takes the hill against Archie Bradley.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Bats Awaken In Arizona]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 22:20:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-534790532.jpg

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing the Padres hit, maybe, four home runs in one week so what went down in Arizona on Friday night was kind of like stumbling across a yeti.

The Friars offense erupted for four homers at Chase Field in a 10-3 blowout of the Diamondbacks. San Diego is 20-20, an even .500 on the season. Well, they are as long as you don’t count their games against the Giants. Overall the Friars are 20-29.

Padres switch-hitting 3rd baseman Yangervis Solarte paced the attack with a pair of home runs, one from each side of the plate. It took a few games for him to find his stroke after a stint on the disabled list but over the last three games Solarte has five hits, including three homers and a double, and has driven in six.

Solarte’s first blast came in the 5th inning and it was not alone. His shot was turned in to a Solarte home run sandwich. Matt Kemp hit one right in front of him and three batters later Derek Norris also went big fly. Kemp and Norris have struggled mightily in May but both had multi-hit games in Phoenix.

In all 10 different players got a knock in the Padres 18-hit attack, including starting pitcher Christian Friedrich. He didn’t need to be good with the bat because he was really good with his arm. Friedrich threw 7.0 innings, allowing no runs on three hits and punching out five.

The Padres snapped their four game losing skid and can start a winning streak on Saturday night when Cesar Vargas takes the mound against Zack Greinke.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Home-Grown Help Could Fix The Padres]]> Fri, 27 May 2016 18:34:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*121/GettyImages-530298626.jpg

The San Diego Padres start a three-game series in Arizona on Friday night. The Padres are, as usual, pitching really well. In fact, over the last month, the Friars’ arms have the 4th-best earned run average in baseball.

The only staffs that have been better are the Cubs, the Giants, and the Mariners. All three of those teams are in first place while the Padres have the 4th-worst record in baseball. How is that possible, you ask? The most likely reason is because right now their offense is, as usual, one of the worst in North American professional sports.

One possible way to fix this issue is start doing whatever the El Paso Chihuahuas are doing, especially in the outfield. The Padres' Triple-A affiliate has some dudes who are tearing up the Pacific Coast League.

Hunter Renfroe, the former first-round pick, went deep again on Friday night and already has 10 home runs and 33 RBI. What's really encouraging there is in his short pro career he's been better in the second half of the season.

Renfroe has been almost as good as Alex Dickerson. The Poway native spent a little time with the big club, but since being sent down he's gotten a hit in every single game he's played. Dickerson extended his hitting streak to 25 games on Friday and is batting .412. That's Ty Cobb territory.

Dickerson and Renfroe are a big part of the reason the Chihuahuas leads the P-C-L in runs, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. El Paso is second in the league in home runs. They're also the reason you're going to be hearing a lot of rumors about Matt Kemp being on the trade block because if he's not clogging up right field one of these guys can get some playing time at Petco Park.

The Padres are at a crossroads. It sure doesn’t look like the Giants are going to come back to the pack and making the post-season this year is very likely not in the cards again. The best-case scenario for General Manager A.J. Preller is probably to have Kemp get hot in June and make himself attractive enough to deal, or have Melvin Upton Jr. or Jon Jay keep putting up good numbers and ship one of them out for some more prospects.

Heck, maybe have all three happen. That way you can start an outfield of Dickerson in left, Travis Jankowski in center, and Renfroe in right, with Manuel Margot and Jabari Blash also waiting in the wings.

It certainly would not make the record any worse than it is right now and it just might be the start of a special future for the Padres organization.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gwynn Family Files Lawsuit Against Tobacco Industry]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:41:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/102871071.jpg

The tobacco industry used the late Tony Gwynn's addiction to chewing tobacco to turn him into a "walking billboard," his family alleges. 

"He never knew it but they were using him to promote their dip to the next generation of kids and fans who idolized him," Gwynn's daughter, Anisha Gwynn, said Tuesday in San Diego.

Gwynn’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the tobacco industry, claiming the San Diego Padres legend was targeted to use the smokeless tobacco that led to the cancer that killed him.

The suit was filed Monday in San Diego Superior Court against Altria Group, Inc. (formerly known as Philip Morris USA) and several other defendants. Altria Group, Inc. makes Skoal chewing tobacco, the brand Tony Gwynn preferred and used extensively. 

The Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry induced Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco when he was a star athlete at San Diego State University in the late 1970’s. 

When asked about the lawsuit, an Altria representative told NBC 7 San Diego, "We have no comment."

In the suit, the Gwynn family says the tobacco company "continued to deluge Tony during his college years with countless free samples of 'dip' tobacco products they purposely adulterated to make more addictive. All the while, they did not mention either the highly addictive nature of their products or their toxicity."

The suit alleges Gwynn used up to two cans of smokeless tobacco per day, claiming that is the equivalent of smoking four to five packs of cigarettes daily. In the suit the Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry chose Gwynn specifically because it was trying to market its product to African-Americans, and that it intentionally misled Tony to use the product.

"Tony Gwynn was the Defendants' marketing dream come true," says the lawsuit. "They knew youngsters looking up to Tony would hope to one day hit like Tony, and be like Tony, so they would also want to 'dip' like Tony."

On Tuesday, Gwynn's daughter Anisha spoke of her dad's legacy, saying the baseball legend “wouldn’t want to see another player or any other person have to get sick and die."

Gwynn used smokeless tobacco for 31 years, despite seeing signs it may be harming his health as early as the 1990’s. Gwynn admitted an addiction to the substance and when he tried to stop using he reportedly needed prescription drugs to fight the anxiety and cravings he felt in its absence.

In recent years, Gwynn had multiple surgeries on his neck to remove both an abscess and a malignant tumor. He died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer at the age of 54.

Tony Gwynn was an elite athlete who “cared about his body,” his son said Tuesday.

“If he had known how addictive and harmful to his health dip was he would not have started using in college,” Tony Gwynn, Jr said of his dad.

The lawsuit does not ask for specified damages, instead requesting a jury trial to rule on grounds of negligence, fraud and product liability by the tobacco industry.

Gwynn’s death has brought about a change in some part of baseball. Multiple young players have either stopped using smokeless tobacco or simply not picked up the habit because of what happened to Mr. Padre.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Pepsi MLB Refre]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Make Organizational Change]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 15:27:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/201*120/Lance+Burkhart.jpg

The Padres have made a change to their player-development staff. Lance Burkhart is the new manager of the Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm.

Burkhart takes over for Francisco Morales, who resigned last week for undisclosed reasons. Morales was suspended by the Padres organization for the start of the 2016 California League season because of an incident that took place at San Diego’s academy in the Dominican Republic. It is unknown if his resignation is related.

The 41-year-old Burkhart gets the promotion to Lake Elsinore after serving as the Low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps hitting coach since 2015. He was part of the staff that helped the TinCaps to a Midwest League Eastern Division championship. Burkhart’s only managerial experience came in 2014 when he skippered the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to a 68-72 finish in the independent Atlantic League.

A 15th round selection by the Montreal Expos in 1997, Burkhart played eight seasons of affiliated baseball, reaching as high as Triple-A.

]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Walk Away Winners]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 23:50:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/GettyImages-533382434.jpg

On Friday night the Padres got the biggest of blasts, a walk-off home run by Melvin Upton Jr. to beat the Dodgers at Petco Park. On Saturday night they walked off the Dodgers again. This time, quite literally.

Yangervis Solarte, who was taken off the disabled list before the game, drew a bases loaded walk from Dodgers reliever Chin-Hui Tsao to force in Wil Myers with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Padres a 3-2 win and a chance to sweep Los Angeles.

For most of the game the Padres hitters were like human windmills against Dodgers pitching. They were swinging a lot but hitting nothing but air. Dodgers starter Alex Wood struck out 13 in 6.0 innings. San Diego batters whiffed 19 times total.

But the Padres were able to push across a couple of runs on sacrifice flies by Matt Kemp and Alexi Amarista and that was good enough to keep it close because Cesar Vargas was nails.

The Padres rookie gave up just two runs and whiffed seven in 7.0 innings. A trio of Friars relievers combined to throw another 4.0 innings of no-hit ball and in the 11th it was the Dodgers bullpen that blinked.

Tsao allowed a single to Myers and gave up a long fly ball to Upton, whose bid for back-to-back walk-off bombs ended just in front of the left field fence. Tsao then loaded the bases with two more walks before giving Solarte his free pass on four pitches.

San Diego can complete their weekend sweep on Sunday behind Colin Rea, who takes the mound against Kenta Maeda.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blash Returns to Padres]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 16:46:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-520695484.jpg

Jabari Blash is going to stay with the San Diego Padres.

The power-hitting outfielder who made the team as a Rule 5 draftee out of Spring Training was designated for assignment and offered back to his original team, the Mariners, last week. But Seattle and San Diego were able to come to an agreement on a trade on Wednesday. The Padres get Blash back in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Blash led the Padres in home runs in Cactus League play but only started three games with the big club. He was hitting .120 with 13 strikeouts in mostly pinch-hitting situations. Blash has been assigned to Triple-A El Paso and will be eligible for a call-up if the Padres need more outfielders.

Also on Wednesday the Friars reinstated Alexi Amarista from the 15-day Disabled List. Amarista suffered a hamstring strain in late April. To make room on the 25-man roster the Padres optioned right-handed reliever Tayron Guerrero to El Paso. Guerrero made his MLB debut in Tuesday night’s loss to the Giants, allowing one run in 2.0 innings of work.

Amarista is not in the lineup for Wednesday night’s game against San Francisco at Petco Park.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>