<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Padres]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/feature/san-diego-padres http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:14:11 -0700 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:14:11 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Tyson Ross]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 20:54:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/465613864.jpg

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

Pitcher 1:

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

Pitcher 2:

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

With that, Black had to laugh.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Healthy Alonso Expects Big Year]]> Sun, 08 Mar 2015 18:40:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/465319794.jpg

When the Padres were in their crazy, freewheeling player acquisition mode, they made a move at every position except one: First base.

Yonder Alonso has right of first refusal on that spot. Tommy Medica is in the mix and Carlos Quentin is learning the position, but Alonso is the guy who gets the first crack at it.

In 2013, he missed time after getting hit on the hand with a pitch and wasn't the same for the rest of the season.

In 2014, he suffered a forearm injury and only played 84 games.

So, this off-season, he changed things up a bit to stay healthy and fit in to a lineup that suddenly looks like one of the best in the National League. NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked to him about avoiding injuries, the new clubhouse, and where he found a little extra motivation.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Josh Johnson]]> Sat, 07 Mar 2015 17:02:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Josh+Johnson+Padres.jpg

When the Padres signed Josh Johnson to a one-year, $8 million contract before the 2014 season, he was immediately thrust in to the "possible Opening Day starter" conversation.

A promising Spring Training was ruined by the revelation that Johnson needed a second elbow reconstruction.

Johnson decided to come back to the Padres on another one-year deal for 2015. NBC 7's Derek Togerson talked to Josh at the Peoria Sports Complex to see how his rehab is going, get a read on the vibe of the clubhouse, and find out if Johnson would be OK with a midseason return to the big leagues even if it means coming out of the Padres bullpen.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Get First Cactus League Win]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 22:41:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/465416146.jpg

One of the few question marks for the Padres during Spring Training 2015 is: Who's going to be the 5th starter?

One through four are set with James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy (not necessarily in that order). On Friday against the White Sox at Peoria Stadium, we got to see two of the candidates. If the rest of the Cactus League is like this, it's going to be a difficult decision to make.

Odrisamer Despaigne and Brandon Morrow both looked solid in a 5-0 shutout of the White Sox. Despaigne got the start, but their numbers were eerily similar:

Despaigne:
2 IP, 2 hits, BB, 2 K, 31 pitches (16 strikes)

Morrow:
2 IP, 2 hits, BB, K, 34 pitches (21 strikes)

There's consistency for you!

Despaigne has experience with the Padres, having made 16 starts last season, going 4-7 with a respectable 3.36 ERA. With a delivery that Padres manager Bud Black describes as "funky," Despaigne would be the change of pace kind of guy in the rotation.

Morrow was signed as a free agent in the off-season from Toronto. He fits the mold of a classic Darren Balsley reclamation project (see Harang, Aaron and Garland, Jon among others). The Padres pitching coach is one of the reasons Morrow wanted to sign in San Diego.

Morrow's stuff is dynamic. He was the 5th overall pick of the 2006 draft by the Mariners and only spent one year in the minor leagues. He has flashed moments of brilliance (three complete-game shutouts in 2012) mixed with stretches of inconsistency (finishing in the top-5 in the league in wild pitches and hit batters in 2011).

Even if Morrow loses the battle for the rotation, he can be one more power arm out of the Padres bullpen. Working with Balsley has helped many a pitcher find his way. If that holds true for Morrow, A.J. Preller will have found a free agent steal.

On offense, outfielder Matt Kemp got his first two hits in a Padres uniform, going 2-3 with an RBI. The Padres' next game is Saturday in Scottsdale against the Giants.

James Shields will make his Padres debut against ... Madison Bumgarner, the man he lost World Series Game 5 to back in October. Shields is scheduled to throw two innings.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Drop Cactus League Opener]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:53:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/464964126.jpg

After playing a bunch of extra-inning games in 2014 (and 2013, 2012, 2011, pretty much every year since Petco Park opened in 2004), the Padres opened their 2015 exhibition season by playing extra innings.

What's that saying about the more things change?

The Padres lost to the Mariners 4-3 in 10-innings at Peoria Stadium. Matt Kemp made his Padres Cactus League debut, going 0-3 with a strikeout. But, fellow outfielder Justin Upton made a big splash in his first game as a Padre.

Upton hammered a home run to centerfield off Seattle reliever Forrest Snow. It showed the kind of pop the Padres have been missing since Adrian Gonzalez was traded after the 2010 season.

The Padres did not put any of their projected five starting pitchers on the mound. Jason Lane got the start, allowing one run on four his in 2.0 innings.

Reliever Tayron Guerrero took the loss when he allowed an RBI single to Patrick Kivlehan in the 10th. On Thursday the Padres and Mariners will meet again. Both Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy are expected to make their 2015 debuts.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Get To Know Derek Norris]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:11:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/456425704.jpg

Amid the many changes the Padres made in the off-season was a complete overhaul of the catching corps. The only player on the roster who has caught even one inning in a Padres uniform is 37-year-old Wil Nieves, who was behind the plate for 27 games way back in 2002.

The new starter is Derek Norris, who came to San Diego in a trade with Oakland. Norris was an All-Star for the A’s in 2014. He talked to NBC 7’s Derek Togerson about his skill set, getting to know a new pitching staff, and of course, the power of a good beard.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: How Do They Look?]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:44:10 -0700

For my money, Padres radio broadcaster Bob Scanlan is the best baseball analyst in the business, hands down. That includes all the folks at MLB Network, ESPN, Fox Sports, you name it.

The man has the ability to take complex baseball terms and boil them down so even marginal fans can understand. After pitching for nine years in the Big Leagues, he knows the game extremely well.

As the Cactus League season starts with Wendesday's Charity Game against the Mariners in Peoria, I asked Scans about the new-look Padres to see if they really do have a new look.

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<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Quentin Reinventing Himself]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 10:58:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/165*120/GettyImages_495662115.jpg

Nobody has ever doubted Carlos Quentin’s ability to play baseball. The problem has been his ability to play baseball.

Quentin’s talent and impact are undeniable. The 2-time All-Star simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Since joining the Padres in 2012, Quentin has never played more than 86 games. In his 9-year career, he’s never played more than 131 games. Injuries have wiped out the rest.

But, Quentin still has lots of baseball left in him.

“I still feel I can be productive,” says Quentin. “The ball still comes off my bat, yes.”

The San Diego native watched in the off-season as the Padres added piece after piece and morphed in to playoff contenders.

“The city of San Diego should be extremely excited,” says Quentin. “The new ownership really changed things. They really brought in a lot of different guys and I think the city is really responding. There’s a buzz around town.”

The problem for Carlos is a lot of the guys who came in (Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers) play Quentin’s position. So, the outfielder was subject to trade rumors. Would an American League team bring him on to be a designated hitter? But, there is another option: Switching positions.

Quentin brought a first baseman’s glove to Arizona for the first time in his career. The change seems to have rejuvenated him.

“Yeah, I mean I’m enjoying learning a new position. My entire career I’ve been an outfielder. I’ve played outfield since high school (at Cathedral Catholic). It’s a lot of fun to do something different.”

The footwork at first base is much different, and can be taxing on the knees, but so far Quentin has had no issues with the move.

“The footwork is different, but everything’s different. It’s the infield. You’ve got to be prepared for the ball every single time. It’s actually easier to focus because you’re focusing every time the pitch is thrown. In the outfield you’ve really got to work on staying focused because you might not get the ball the entire game.”

"He's doing fine," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's getting his grounders, he's getting all the subtleties of the position, he's learning our bunt plays, he's learning the cutoff and relay system. Carlos is a sharp guy. He knows baseball. He's working hard at it, so it's been fun for him."

For now, Yonder Alonso is penciled in as the starting first baseman. But he’s been working more and more at third base, as well, which might open up a little more playing time for Quentin, adding one more bat with 30 home run pop to the Padres already potent lineup.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: First Pitcher Is Revealed]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:37:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/GettyImages_452851902.jpg

Padres manager Bud Black shared a secret on Saturday morning. We now know who the team's opening day starter will be. The Cactus League opening day starter, that is.

Left-handed reliever Jason Lane will take the ball when the Padres play the Mariners in their annual charity game on Wednesday. Among the reasons for the decision is Lane is one of the closest guys on the staff to being game-ready.

Minor league prospect Justin Hancock is also scheduled to throw in the exhibition opener.

As for the regular season Opening Day starter, that's still up in the air. Now, this is purely speculative, but the guy who gets the ball on Saturday, March 7, which would be the fourth Cactus League game against the Giants in Scottsdale, might be the answer.

If the Padres were already setting up their regular rotation based on pitching every fifth day (and Buddy says they have things "mapped out"), the person who goes on the 7th would have his spot naturally come up on April 6th, which is the first real game of the year against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Players Debate Color of "the Dress"]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:43:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padres_Talk_About_Color_Of_The_Dress_NBC_RSH-MCDS_1200x675_405681219524.jpg Blue and black? White and gold? The world is divided over "the Dress." Professional sports franchises are often defined by the color of their uniforms so at Padres Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona, NBC7's Derek Togerson asked some of the Padres players what they see. If anything can divide a clubhouse, this is it.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Bud Black]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:39:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padres-Spring-Training-bag-.jpg The Padres won games last season primarily because of their pitching. Bud Black expects more of the same. NBC 7's Jim Laslavic reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Padres Spring Training: Who Hits First?]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:45:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages_456113586.jpg

Although the Padres overhauled their roster this off-season, they could not possibly get to all the issues that need addressing. The addition of power and youth were paramount, and both accomplished.

There's a lot of new pop in the lineup. Matt Kemp, Justin Upston, Wil Myers and Derek Norris can all drive in runs. The question is, who will be the runners they drive in?

The Padres don't have a true leadoff hitter anywhere on the projected, Opening Day 25-man roster. But, don't worry. Neither do most teams.

"In this day and age, I think the true, prototypical leadoff hitter is hard to find," said Padres manager Bud Black. "There are some out there. I think (Marlins second baseman) Dee Gordon is a prototypical one. Obviously, Rickey Henderson was probably, arguably the best leadoff hitter of all time."

If you have to go that far back, you know there's a dearth of "true" leadoff hitters in the 2015 world of Major League Baseball. So, since there's not a guy who really stands out (prospects Rico Noel and Jose Rondon seem to fit the mold but they're not MLB-ready yet), who does Buddy see as the guy who sets the table?

"I think if you look at (Will) Venable, (Cameron) Maybin, (Wil) Myers, (Yangervis) Solarte ... let's get started there," said Black

Shortstop Alexi Amarista is one option many people thought would be in the mix for the top spot in the order because of his speed, but a low on-base percentage has Black thinking something else.

"Alexi and (fellow shortstop Clint) Barmes fit, maybe, down at the bottom of the order."

Catcher Derek Norris is another guy people thought would have a shot at leading off. He has that high OBP, but not the speed you need from a leadoff guy, so Black sees him in the middle of the order with Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks.

When Cactus League play begins, expect to see multiple guys getting the first at-bat of the game.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Full Squad Workouts Begin in Peoria]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:13:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san-diego-padres-generic-sp.jpg A look at the first full squad workouts for the San Diego Padres in Peoria on February 25, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Hold First Full-Squad Workout]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:14:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages_111029349.jpg

Matt Kemp has been in Peoria since pitchers and catchers reported last week. On Wednesday, he was out on the field with the rest of his new Padres team mates for the Friars' first full squad workout of Spring Training 2015.

This team has gotten an awful lot of buzz over the last few months. The new outfielder believes it's warranted.

"I feel like we can be one of the best teams in baseball," said Kemp.

Every player on every team says that every February. The difference is, this time he might be right. The Padres project to have enviable pitching staffs, from the starting rotation to the bullpen, and a formidable offense. Advanced statistical metrics say they'll take a step back on defense, but they're banking on the offensive improvement to more than compensate.

With Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers forming a new, more athletic and productive outfield, San Diego has far more OF than they can carry. So the Padres are moving a few pieces around.

Oft-injured left fielder Carlos Quentin has been working at first base in the off-season and will give that position a shot during Cactus League play. Aside from Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica, the Padres don't have many options at first so Quentin could work his way in to some playing time there.

If he shows the ability to handle the position, it makes keeping his $8 million contract easier to keep around and could make him more attractive as a trade chip.

Derek Togerson and photojournalist Dave Smith will be in Peoria for Spring Training starting Friday, February 27. Be sure to visit www.nbc7.com/sportswrap for updates.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Randy Jones Likes Padres Changes]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:26:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Randy+Jones+Brown+Uniform.jpg

Randy Jones won a Cy Young award for the Padres. If that wasn't enough to endear him to the Friars faithful, after retiring he stayed in San Diego and became ingrained in the community.

Jones keeps close tabs on the franchise, working with them as a Spring Training instructor and a radio analyst for the pre- and post-game shows on The Mighty 1090. What makes Randy so darn fun to listen to is his knowledge and the fact he has no problem saying EXACTLY what is on his mind.

Good, bad or ugly, you will hear the truth. I talked with Jones before he heads out to Peoria again about his take on young pitchers, and got a very interesting bit of insight on a part of the program that didn't get much attention, but could turn the franchise in to a perennial winner.

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<![CDATA[Who Will Be Padres' First Starter?]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 09:43:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres6P0222_1200x675_402923587964.jpg NBC 7's Derek Togerson reports on pitchers as spring training begins.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Manager Prepares For Pivotal SpringTraining]]> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:15:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/Bud+Black+Peoria.jpg

Padres pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, AZ on Thursday. The greatest off-season in San Diego sports history (it never gets old writing that) has given manager Bud Black a bounty of talent to work with.

So, the pressure is certainly on. Since taking over in 2007, Black has taken the Padres to the brink of the post-season twice, but never reached the playoffs. Now, he's never had a roster even remotely close to this one to work with, so the 2010 National League Manager Of The Year is facing arguably more pressure now than he ever has before.

Here's the Padres Opening Night starting lineup from 2014 against the Dodgers at Petco Park:

P - Andrew Cashner
C - Rene Rivera
1B - Yonder Alonso
2B - Jedd Gyorko
3B - Chase Headley
SS - Everth Cabrera
LF - Tommy Medica
CF - Will Venable
RF - Chris Denorfia

Now, here's a look at the Padres projected Opening Day starting lineup for 2015 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles:

P - James Shields
C - Derek Norris
1B - Yonder Alonso (although with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, Tommy Medica coould get the nod here as a right-handed hitter)
2B - Jedd Gyorko
3B - Will Middlebrooks
SS - Alexi Amarista
LF - Justin Upton
CF - Wil Myers
RF - Matt Kemp

That kind of turnover for the better simply does not happen in a three month span in professional sports.

This year, we cannot write off a slow start to a lack of depth and a dearth of talent (well, unless injuries wipe out his entire starting outfield). It's on the manager to bring all these new pieces together, one of the questions I asked him as he prepared for the most exciting trip to Peoria in Padres history.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[James Shields: "This Is About Winning Now"]]> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 18:58:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/James-Shields-Getty-closeup.jpg

San Diego Padres fans heard from the team's newest addition, right-handed pitcher James Shields Wednesday.

Shields spoke along with Executive Vice President/General Manager A.J. Preller and Manager Bud Black.

"It's incredible the change and the willingness to win," Shields said about the Padres. "This organization is ready to win now and that's what attracted me."

On Sunday night, Preller continued the most improbable off-season in San Diego sports history by announcing Shield's contract agreement.

The four-year contract is worth $75 million.

That's over and above the 2007, $52 million deal the Padres made with Jake Peavy after his National League Cy Young Award, the team reported.

Shields recently moved to Rancho Santa Fe and said it's amazing to be able to play in the same city where he and his family live.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Caravan to Travel Around County]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:11:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/164293623.jpg

The Padres caravan will hit the road in San Diego Friday, making stops across the county with players as tickets for the upcoming season go on sale.

Padres players, coaches, executives, broadcasters and staff from the team will spend February 6, 7 and 8 volunteering, meeting with fans and visiting members of the military and first responders.

The first stop on the trip will be in Mission Beach Park. There, team members and staff will launch the new Padres Volunteer Team with representatives from Toyota. The county-wide initiative will bring together players and fans to donate their time to the community.

On Sunday morning, players will hand out jerseys and caps to San Diego American Little League players as a part of their Future Padres initiative, now in its fourth year. 15,000 youth baseball players in more than 50 leagues will have Padres gear by 2015.

The caravan will make additional stops throughout the weekend, including stops at Westfield UTC on Saturday at 11 a.m., the Otay Ranch Town Center at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, the Padres Store Tienda de Los Padres in Tijuana, and the Northgate Gonzalez Market at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Single-game tickets will also go on sale Friday to the general public at 9 a.m. online and will be the first opportunity to purchase single-game tickets.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Invite 18 Non-Roster Players to Spring Training]]> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:07:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/164293623.jpg

The Padres have invited 18 players who are not already on the roster to their 2015 Major League Spring Training. For me, this is one of the most fascinating parts of the roster building process.

The 18 players are a range of former All-Stars trying to regain their form and stick a few more years in the Big Leagues like relief pitcher Jose Valverde, who has led three different teams in saves; draft picks with big signing bonuses trying to force their way on to an Opening Day roster a little earlier than expected, like Austin Hedges; and journeymen, the guys who have been in professional baseball for years but never really established themselves as every day Big Leaguers like Marcos Mateo.

One guy who Padres fans will be keeping a close eye on (as long as A.J. Preller doesn't trade him for Mike Trout or something) is outfielder Hunter Renfroe. San Diego's outfield is stacked with talent after a series of off-season trades, but Renfroe, the team's first round pick in 2013, is already knocking  on the door thanks to his prodigious pop (You can see the kind of power Renfroe possesses here).

If he goes nuts with the bat in the Cactus League the Padres will be severely tempted to put him on the Opening Day roster, perhaps even moving him to 1st base.

Here's the full list of this year's non-roster invitees:

Right-Handed Pitchers:

Justin Hancock
Jay Jackson
Marcos Mateo
Jose Valverde
Matt Wisler

Left-Handed Pitchers:

Scott Elbert
Jason Lane
Chris Rearick

Infielders:

Jake Goebbert
Diego Goris
Ramiro Pena
Brett Wallace

Outfielders:

Rico Noel
Hunter Renfroe

Catchers:

Cody Decker
Griff Erickson
Rocky Gale
Austin Hedges



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Sign Seven]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 21:25:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/168*120/Cashner+Padres+Win.jpg

A.J. Preller has been so busy bringing in guys from other teams, it's easy to forget he had a bunch of players on the roster who needed attending to.

Seven Padres filed for salary arbitration. None of them will go to a hearing. On Friday, the Padres announced all seven guys have agreed to a new contract.

Here is the full list:

Alexi Amarista (IF/OF) : 2 years, $2.5 million
Andrew Cashner (RHP) : 1 year, $4 million
Ian Kennedy (RHP) : 1 year, $9.85 million
Tyson Ross (RHP) : 1 year,  $5.25 million
Shawn Kelley (RHP) : 1 year, $2.8 million
Dale Thayer (RHP) : 1 year, $1.3 million
Yonder Alonso (1B) : 1 year, $1.6 million

This gives Preller time to either try and work out long-term contracts with the guys he sees as part of the Padres' future, as well as avoids any arbitration hearings, which can get a little messy.

Friday's signings mean the Padres will likely have an Opening Day payroll of right around $90 million. In fact, it will be almost exactly the same figure they opened the 2014 season with. That number (which does not include money like the more than $5 million that will go to Cory Luebke, if he's ready for Spring Training or not) will change a bit more as Preller massages the roster.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Padres Continue Search For Players]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:57:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/Dillon+Gee+Mets.jpg

In his never-ending quest to acquire baseball players, Padres General Manager A.J. Preller will talk/listen to any team at any time about anyone. Now he’s talking about making a trade for the Mets’ Opening Day starter.

New York has put Dillon Gee on the trade block. The 28-year-old right-hander has become expendable as the Mets load up on young starting pitching and anticipate getting Matt Harvey back from elbow surgery.

In his first eight starts of 2014, Gee was 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA. Then he inujred a back muscle, missed two months and was not as effective after the All-Star break, losing seven of his last 11 decisions. Gee is not eligible for free agency until 2017, so he fits the mold Preller has been looking for … Younger, established players with controllable contracts.

Gee uses four pitches, a fastball, slider, change and curve. He’s not dominant with any of them but challenges hitters in the strike zone and gets by with his highly competitive nature. However, the one caveat with any pitcher coming to the Padres is, let him work with Pitching Coach Darren Balsley for a bit and we’ll see just how good he can be.

With the Padres, he would figure to be a back-to-the rotation starter or long reliever. It would be interesting to see how Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson approaches a possible trade with his former team. The Rockies, Giants, Royals and Rangers are also rumored to be interested in Gee.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Add Bullpen Depth]]> Sat, 10 Jan 2015 19:05:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/175*120/493791987.jpg

Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is a machine. After all the trades, the signings, the additions and subtractions, Preller struck again on Saturday, signing another 3-time All-Star.

This one didn’t get the same kind of fanfare as some of the Padres other additions, though. The All-Star in question is relief pitcher Jose Valverde.

The man they call Papa Grande agreed to a minor league contract with San Diego. He’ll try to earn a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Valverde has led the Major Leagues in saves for three different teams (the Diamondbacks, Astros and Tigers) but has slowed down considerably the last couple of seasons. Valverde, who will turn 37 in March, has only saved 11 games and thrown 40 innings over the last two years.

The Padres added two more relievers on minor league contracts on Saturday. Former Dodgers lefty Scott Elbert, who has overcome three elbow surgeries, agreed to come south from Los Angeles while former Cubs righty Marcos Mateo, who last appeared in a big league game in 2011, will try to earn a spot in the Padres bullpen. Elbert is 29 and Mateo is 30, so while they don’t have a ton of MLB experience, they are veterans who have put up solid minor league numbers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Now Padres Recruiting Has Gotten Ridiculous]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:50:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*130/456055540.jpg

Right now, I'm not sure if Padres General Manager A.J. Preller should be commended or committed. Perhaps both. What he has done, and continues to do, with the Padres roster is astonishing.

The Chargers are a day away from playing a football game in December that could mean the difference in making the playoffs or not, and they've become an afterthought. It's all Padres all the time, and Preller is not showing signs of slowing down.

On the day the Friars introduced Matt Kemp and finalized a trade for Wil Myers, the ever-busy Preller worked another deal with the Braves to bring 27-year-old, 2-time All-Star Justin Upton to San Diego. Atlanta gets a package of four minor league prospects in return (LHP Max Fried, IF Dustin Peterson, IF Jace Peterson, OF Mallex Smith). San Diego also gets minor league right-hander Aaron Northcrarft in the deal.

Upton is in the final year of a 5-year, $50 million contract. The Padres will give him $14.5 million for 2015. Even if it is just a one-year rental, it's likely going to be one heck of a year. Upton hit 29 home runs and drove in a career-high 102 runs with the Braves last season. Defensively, Upton has incredible physical gifts and a long list of highlight reel catches on his resume, but is prone to mistakes and occasionally doesn't play up to his athletic potential.

However, that should not be a problem for the Padres in 2015. Upton is in a contract year and returning to the National League West, a place he knows well. Upton spent six years in Arizona before a trade took him to Georgia ahead of the 2013 season.

Upton will likely play left field in the new-look Padres outfield, with Kemp in right. According to Padres manager Bud Black, Myers is tentatively the centerfielder, but with seven outfielders now on the roster and under contract for 2015, a few deals still need to be made.

In a separate deal on Friday, the Padres beefed up their infield, agreeing to a deal with the Red Sox for 3rd baseman Will Middlebrooks. Boston will get catcher Ryan Hanigan, who just came over from Tampa in the Myers deal, in return. Injuries have derailed Middle brooks' career a bit, but the power potential is there.

Over the first 169 games of his career (split between 2012 and 2013), Middlebrooks hit 32 home runs with 103 RBI. He only hit two home runs in 63 games last season, when he went to the disabled list twice with a calf strain and a broken finger. Middlebrooks projects as an average to slightly above-average defensive 3rd baseman.

So far, it appears Preller's plan to add offense has worked amazingly well. He's gotten the players he wants. Now we'll see how good he is at unloading the players he doesn't want (and likely nobody else does, either).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kemp Is Officially Coming To San Diego]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:16:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/177*120/456663944.jpg

Let me be the first to congratulate Padres General Manager A.J. Preller on winning the 2015 MLB Executive of the Year Award.

Preller was officially hired on August 8th. On December 18th, he endeared himself to Padres fans in a way no front office member has since Kevin Towers put together a World Series club in 1998 (we’ll leave it there and not mention the fallout).

Let’s take a quick look back at the week that was for Preller:

Thursday, 12/11/14: On the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings the Padres and Dodgers agreed to a trade that will bring All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp, catcher Tim Federowicz and $32 million to the Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland and minor league pitcher Zach Eflin. The deal will immediately upgrade the Padres’ near-historically bad offense and inject enthusiasm in to a fan base desperate for star power. Eventually.

Tuesday, 12/16/14: During Kemp’s physical, San Diego doctors discover Kemp has arthritis in both hips. Preller uses this information to bring the Dodgers back to the negotiating table, presumably to re-work the details of the transaction or ask Los Angeles to insure Kemp’s contract. The information being made public upsets the L.A. front office (bonus points for Preller!).

Wednesday, 12/17/14: The Padres, Rays and Nationals work a 3-team, 11-player trade. San Diego receives outfielder Wil Myers (2013 AL Rookie of the Year), catcher Ryan Hanigan (statistically the best defensive catcher in baseball not named Yadier Molina), and minor league pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo. The Padres give up catcher Rene Rivera (2014’s breakout star), along with first baseman Jake Bauers, pitchers Burch Smith and Joe Ross, and shortstop Trea Turner (all currently in the minor leagues).  Myers is getting over an elbow injury that limited his production in 2014, but at the age of 24 is still expected to be an impact player. The deal is expected to be finalized on Friday, 12/19/14.

Thursday, 12/18/14: After wrangling for a few days, the Kemp trade finally becomes official. Preller also signs starting pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year contract worth less than $2 million Performance incentives can push the contract to nearly $8 million, the amount Johnson got for 2014 despite having Tommy John surgery and never appearing in a game for the Padres. Johnson has resumed throwing activities. Even if he comes back as a relief pitcher, a guy with his pedigree at that price is a smart, low-risk, high-reward move. The Padres also finalize a trade with the Oakland A’s to bring All-Star catcher Derek Norris and minor-league pitcher Seth Streich to Petco Park in exchange for pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez. Norris is an elite offensive catcher (10 HR, 55 RBI, .270 average in his first full season as a starter), but with Hanigan in the mix it’s possible he will move to first base for the Padres.

So, let’s recap. In an eight day span A.J. Preller oversaw the movement of 21 players, three All-Stars (all coming to San Diego), and an influx of $32 million. Oh, and there are more moves to come.

San Diego now has six outfielders and three catchers under contract for 2015. Assuming they go with manager Bud Black’s preferred strategy of carrying 12 pitchers that only leaves four roster spots. Since most MLB teams prefer to play with that many infielders, plus have at least one in reserve, we have not seen the end of Preller’s wheeling and dealing ways.

Oh, by the way, this is interesting. Thursday marked the 133rd day of Preller’s tenure as Padres G.M. That’s exactly 19 weeks.

How fitting is it for THAT to be the number that excites Padres fans again?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Trade for Myers]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:35:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/preller+1.jpg

On Wednesday the Padres pulled the trigger on a trade that, pending physicals, would nab them 23-year old outfielder Wil Myers from the Rays.

In the three-team deal the Padres acquire Myers, the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year, catcher Ryan Hanigan and a pair of prospects.

In return Tampa Bay gets catcher Rene Rivera, pitcher Burch Smith and minor-leaguer Jake Bauers.

The third team in the deal, Washington, will receive pitcher Joe Ross (Tyson's brother) and the Padres top pick in the 2014 draft, shortstop Trea Turner.



Photo Credit: Matthew Wood/NBC7]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Offense Gets An Upgrade]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:23:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/456280776.jpg

In 2014, the Padres had the worst offense in baseball, and it was not even close. San Diego ranked last in MLB in the following offensive categories:

-    Runs Scored
-    Runs Batted In
-    Hits
-    Batting Average
-    On-Base Percentage
-    Slugging Percentage
-    Doubles

There’s more, but that paints a pretty good picture. When the Padres hired A.J. Preller in August, he knew he had a major offensive rebuilding project on his hands. This is a nice way to start.

Sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Padres and Dodgers agreed to the biggest trade of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings. San Diego is sending catcher Yasmani Grandal, right-handed pitcher Joe Wieland, and minor league starting pitcher Zach Eflin to the Dodgers for All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz, plus about $31 million.

Kemp provides an immediate and MASSIVE improvement for the Padres offense. In 2014, Grandal led the Padres with 15 home runs and Jedd Gyorko led the team with 51 runs batted in. Kemp alone had 17 home runs and 54 runs batted in.

AFTER THE ALL-STAR BREAK.

The 2011 National League MVP (yes, I took it away from Ryan Braun in my head) battled hamstring, ankle and shoulder injuries the last few years, but his big second half coincided with a clean bill of health. Kemp turned 30 in September and has another five years on his contract, so Preller got an impact power hitter who’s still in his prime and under financial control for the near future, a combination the Padres have not had since Adrian Gonzalez arrived in 2006. The Friars are really only on the hook for about $75 million for Kemp over five years, still the largest financial commitment the franchise has ever made.

Now, if there’s a concern (other than the injury history), it’s that Kemp came from a situation where he had guys like Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig around him in the lineup. He won’t have that kind of help at Petco Park, so unless Preller is able to add another respected hitter, something he is still trying to do, it’s likely Kemp will lead the league in walks.

The Dodgers had a logjam in their outfield with Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford all getting paid big bucks, so Kemp became the odd man out. Los Angeles needed offensive help behind the plate, so they coveted Grandal, who became expendable when Rene Rivera emerged as the best catcher on the roster and one of the best defensive backstops in all of baseball. Federowicz will provide depth until top prospect Austin Hedges is ready for The Show, which should not take more than another year or two.

The Dodgers also fill a need in acquiring Wieland, who is a good fit as a long relief pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. Los Angeles has had trouble getting from their front-line starting pitchers to closer Kenley Jansen.

The deal is not yet official because the players involved need to take physicals and the Commissioner’s office has to give final approval due to the large amount of money trading hands. But, when it is finalized, the Padres are a whole lot better than they were on Tuesday, and Preller has already ingratiated himself to Padres fans.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres to Acquire Matt Kemp: Report]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 08:39:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/matt-kemp-generic-dodgers-1.jpg

Seasoned veteran outfielder and hitter Matt Kemp is about to become a San Diego Padre, according to a published report.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the 30-year-old Kemp would be traded to the Padres with back-up catcher Tim Federowicz, citing unnamed sources.

In exchange the Dodgers would take 26-year-old Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal and two pitching prospects, according to the newspaper.

The Dodgers would also pay $30 million of the $107 million remaining on Kemp's contract, the newspaper reported.

The Padres will get a big boost to their offense which ranked dead last in the National League according to NBC Sports.

The deal is expected to be finalized Thursday before the conclusion of baseball's Winter Meetings in San Diego.

A spokesperson for the San Diego Padres could not confirm the report to NBC 7.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Loosen Their Purse Strings]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 19:13:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/AJ+Preller+2.jpg

For decades, the Padres have done things on a shoestring budget. Instead of being in the hunt for a guy like Albert Pujols, they would go all in on Alberto Gonzalez.

Now, all of a sudden, that seems to be changing.

Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings got going in earnest in Downtown San Diego on Monday. It would appear Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has his fingers in an awful lot of pies. After offering monster contracts to, but losing out on, Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, Preller has been talking to teams about acquiring some big-name players and their big-dollar deals.

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce are on the radar. They both have 10-figure annual salaries. Finally, the Friars are (at least on the surface) serious about contending in the current MLB economy.

"We don't really want to tie ourselves down and say we just have to focus on this one category of player," Preller told me on Monday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. "I think you get the best ideas when you have the most information and a chance to look at everybody, then filter that down to maybe the two, three, four players that night work for us."

The problem has been, those players are out of the Padres' price range. This year, though (again, on the surface), San Diego is not shying away from parting with piles of cash.

"We hired A.J. with the intent to unleash him and unleash the team that he's put together underneath him," Padres President & C.E.O. Mike Dee told me. "He's going to work hard, and he has our full support."

For once, it appears that support is going to be of the financial variety. You can hear more of what Dee had to say about Preller by checking out my Facebook page here.

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<![CDATA[Padres Non-Tender Cabrera]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:08:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/padres+celebrate+625+1.jpg

In 2013 he was an All-Star. In 2015 he will be a free agent. That is the fate that awaits former Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera. In an expected move the club non-tendered the 28-year old on Tuesday. He is now free to sign with any team.

Cabrera played six seasons with the Padres, but appeared in just 90 games for the team in 2014, batting .232, while earning $2.45 million as a first-year arbitration eligible player. While on the disabled list with a bad hamstring, Cabrera was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Cabrera also served a 50-game suspension two years ago for violating the league's PED policy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Earn Rights To Korean Pitcher]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 18:08:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/186*120/456251690.jpg

New Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is known for his ability to sign international talent. It didn't take him long to start bringing more diversity to Petco Park.

Or, at least, try to.  For $2 million, the Padres have won the bidding for South Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim, giving them 30 days of exclusive negotiating rights with the 26-year-old lefty.

Kim has a low-90's fastball and a good, hard slider but does tend to walk a lot of hitters and has an injury history.

If the Padres can work out a deal with Kim, he'll become the second player from the Korean Baseball Organization to come to the United States through the posting system. The first was Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Extreme Makeover: Petco Park Edition]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 20:38:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/petco+park+makeover.jpg

In the middle of the 2014 season, the Padres moved one of their left field scoreboards and caught some flack from fans. Turns out, they had a reason for the change.

On Thursday the Padres announced a massive change to the left field area at Petco Park, and when I say massive, I'm speaking literally.

A new high-definition video display system is replacing the video board that's been there since the stadium opened in 2004.

It's 61.2-feet tall by 123.6-feet wide, covering 7,564.32 square feet, the third-largest in Major League Baseball (behind Seattle's Safeco Field and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City). That's nearly five times the size of the current video screen (30-feet tall by 53-feet wide; 1,590 square feet). The entire board can be run full-screen to show live action or video replays, or it can be split into sections for statistical information, graphics and animations.

But that's not all! New LED ribbon boards spanning nearly 750 feet along the first and third base lines, as well as on the left field grandstand fascia, are going in.

Of course, a bigger board and more electronic screens take up more space, so seating will have to change a bit. Two new rows of seats (171 total) will be added to the front of the Left Field Lower Box spanning sections 126, 128, 130, 132 and 134, while 110 fixed seats will be removed from from the back rows of these sections. That back area will be replaced by a number of bar stool seats to create another fan gathering area.

The Left Field Upper Box overhang will also be scaled back and raised four feet. That means 192 existing seats will become 111 barstool seats.

Also, 610 seats from the top of the Left Field Reserved sections will be replaced by what the team calls a, "new social group space" that can hold 270 people.

All the changes will reduce Petco Park's overall seating capacity, but season ticket holders will have the option to choose new seats in at the same renewal price.

Oh, and there's one more change of note. The new seating arrangement is forcing the padded wall that runs from left field through left-center field to be brought in about three feet. It will also be lowered from eight feet to seven feet in height.

We'll have to wait and see how the alterations look aesthetically, but at this point, anything that might help the Padres score runs is a reason to be excited.

Demolition begins next week. All the changes are scheduled to be completed in time for the home opener on April 9 against the World Champion San Francisco Giants.

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<![CDATA[Padres Fire Hitting Coach Phil Plantier]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:41:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/phil+plantier.jpg

An anemic Padres offense has cost hitting coach Phil Plantier his job.

The team is expected to announce his firing later today after Plantier guided an offense that finished last in runs per game (3.3), batting average (.226), hits (1,199) and a slew of other offensive categories.

The rest of Padres manager Bud Black’s staff is expected to return, including assistant hitting coach Alonzo Powell. There’s no word who will take over as hitting coach.

Plantier just finished his third season with the team. He was under contract through next year, according to MLB.com, which broke the story.

The Padres were shut out 19 times this season. Their .171 batting average in June was the lowest single month by a team in decades.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bud's Back]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:36:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/preller+1.jpg

As expected there will be no change at manager for the Padres in 2015. In a dugout press conference on Monday General Manager made official what most close to the Padres already knew, Bud Black is keeping his job.

"I think at the end of the day we have a common sense of what we need to do to the ball club. I think there is a mutual respect there," Preller said.

In eight seasons as skipper of the Padres Black has two winning seasons ('07 & '10). He is under contract through 2015.



Photo Credit: Matthew Wood/NBC7]]>
<![CDATA[Padres End Season With Loss]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:13:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/456113122_8.jpg

In a season where the pitching has been their strong suit, it let the Padres down in their final game of 2014. Starter Robbie Erlin (4-5) didn't make it out of the second inning in the Friars 9-3 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.

Reliever Nick Vincent got knocked around in a four-run seventh inning that put the game away for the Giants.

The Padres ended the season at 77-85, a two-game improvement over the past two years.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Peavy, Giants Top Padres]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 20:06:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/456210204.jpg

For seven and a half years, Jake Peavy was among the most popular of Padres players. In 2009, he was traded to the White Sox, and stayed in the American League with Chicago and Boston until this year, when a mid-season trade to San Francisco sent him back to the N.L. West.

During all that time away, Peavy never had a chance to face the team for which he won the 2007 Cy Young Award. That changed on Saturday at AT&T Park, when the Giants met the Padres in the final game of the season.

Alas, there was none of the nostalgia you'd expect. It's only been five years, but the only guys still with the franchise from Jake's time are outfielder Will Venable, pitcher Tim Stauffer, manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley.

So, it was really just another day at the office for Peavy, who threw 5.0 innings, allowing one run and taking a no-decision in a game the Giants eventually won 3-1. The only run Jake allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Yasmani Grandal that brought home (quite fittingly) Venable.

Padres starter Eric Stults was, as he's been for the last couple of months, fantastic. The lefty allowed one run in 7.0 innings, but since he once again received little run support (Stults was backed up by the 4th-fewest runs of any starter in the league) he took a no-decision.

With the game tied 1-1 in the 8th inning, Dale Thayer loaded the bases on a single, a fielder's choice, an error and two walks. After striking out Pablo Sandoval for the second out, Thayer gave up a bloop single to Brandon Crawford and the winning runs scored.

The Padres and Giants play the final game of the regular season (which will not be the final game of San Francisco's year) on Sunday in San Francisco. San Diego sends LHP Robbie Erlin to the mound against Chris Heston, who will make his first career Major League start.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Reach 77 Wins]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 00:03:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/456166226.jpg

In 2011 and 2012, the Padres finished with 76 wins. Actually, the Padres had finished with 76 wins in four of the previous 14 seasons.

So, when they beat the Giants 4-1 behind a gem by Ian Kennedy on Friday night in San Francisco, there was a bit of a reason to celebrate.

The Friars earned their 77th win of 2014, meaning they will not be an even 10 games under .500 for the third straight year.

Seth Smith and Rene Rivera had big hits in a 3-run 7th inning that gave Kennedy all the cushion he needed. Ian threw 7.0 innings, striking out six while only allowing one unearned run.

Ian also went over the 200 innings pitched mark, the third time he's done that in his career. Kennedy is the first Padres right-handed pitcher to throw 200 innings since Jake Peavy in 2007.

The Padres can get ambitious and go for their 78th win on Saturday afternoon at AT&T Park.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>