<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Padres]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/feature/san-diego-padres http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usThu, 25 May 2017 01:52:00 -0700Thu, 25 May 2017 01:52:00 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Padres Offer Unique Ticket Deal]]> Tue, 23 May 2017 10:02:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Petco+Park+Home+Opener+2017.JPG

The Padres are having a little trouble winning games these days but that’s not stopping them from keeping hope alive. In fact they’re willing to gamble on having plenty of success at home soon.

The Friars have a new ticket offer on the table called the Padres Five-Win Pass. For $99 fans can see the first five wins in June. Not the first five games in June; the first five WINS in June.

The Padres play 16 games at Petco Park in June. That means if they hit the last one, on June 30 against the Dodgers, at 4-11 you will get to see all 16 games for $99. This offer is good for left field sections 226, 228 and 230 right underneath the giant scoreboard and will be on sale until June 9.

But what if they go nuts and win five straight to start the month? Is it still a good deal then?

As an example, a seat in Section 228 for the Saturday, June 3 game against the Rockies is up for sale on the Padres website for $24.50. Quick math tells us $24.50 x 5 = $122.50. So even if the Padres miraculously sweep Colorado to start the month then win two straight against the Royals the following weekend the $99 deal would be less than buying tickets to five separate games.

The Padres are 9-14 at Petco Park this season. The 16 games they play there in June are against the Rockies (3), Royals (3), Reds (3), Tigers (3), Braves (3) and Dodgers (1).

If you purchase the Padres Five-Win Pass the tickets will be delivered to your smartphone via the MLB BallPark app. You can purchase up to eight seats and each pass includes a $20 credit towards a seat upgrade.

For more information on the promotion visit www.padres.com.

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<![CDATA[Padres Prospects Winning Awards]]> Mon, 22 May 2017 14:11:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Fernando+Tatis+Jr..jpg

With a 16-30 record, sitting 12.5 games out of first place, we know the 2017 season is not the best version of the San Diego Padres. ALTHOUGH it is worthy to note that on this day in the 2003 the then-Florida Marlins were 13.5 games out of first and ended up winning the World Series so stranger things have happened.

But, back to reality. The Padres have given us no illusions that they are in building mode. I can’t call it a rebuilding mode because “rebuilding” implies there was something good that existed and needs to be resurrected. A franchise that has won exactly one playoff game in the last 19 years is NOT rebuilding.

They’re laying the foundation for what should be a bright future. On Monday a pair of Padres prospects earned awards. One of them could very well be their starting shortstop for a decade. The other is a guy most of you probably didn’t even know was in the system.

Fort Wayne Tincaps shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was named the Midwest League Player of the Week. All Tatis did was hit .462 with a 1.533 OPS, hit three doubles, a triple, three home runs, drive in six runs and score nine more. That’s a pretty nice week, especially when you consider he’s only 18 years old.

Tatis, as you may recall, is the son of former big league slugger Fernando Tatis, the only man to ever hit two grand slams in one inning. He did it with the Cardinals in 1999, hitting both bombs off then-Dodgers starter Chan Ho Park. (Don’t ask me why Park was still in the game for the second one, that’s a question for Davey Johnson).

He was part of the 2016 trade that sent James Shields to the White Sox. At the time not much was known about Tatis because he was a 17-year-old who had not entered affiliated baseball in the United States yet. Now he’s one of San Diego’s top-10 prospects.

At 6’3” and 185 pounds Tatis Jr. is not a small kid so scouts have long projected him to develop power. Most of them just didn’t see it developing quite this early. It was a little advice from his pop that helped unlock the … well, pop.

"I tried to get stronger and bigger and did a lot to work on that [in the offseason]," said Tatis in an interview with www.milb.com. "Now, I'm just trying to put the ball on the barrel. I was talking with my dad, and he told me that I'm big enough to hit for power and average, so he told me to try to do both. Just swing hard."

Tatis is already on the MLB radar. That’s a place Christian Villanueva is trying to come back to.

Villanueva was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for his performance with El Paso. The 3rd baseman hit .480 with a 1.399 OPS, three home runs, seven runs batted in and eight runs scored. While everyone was waiting for Tatis to show up some folks were waiting to see if Villanueva would return.

In 2013 the 3rd baseman was a top-10 prospect in the Chicago Cubs system. Yes, the system that had guys like Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora in it. He was always regarded as a very good defender but his bat was a little slow to develop. After missing the entire 2016 season with a broken leg the Padres signed Villanueva to a minor league contract.

In El Paso he seems to have found his swing. At the age of 25 and after eight years in the minor leagues the Jalisco, Mexico native may be putting it all together, giving the Padres even more organizational depth than they probably knew they had.

One more Monday note, the Padres are expected to recall infielder Carlos Asuaje from El Paso and option a relief pitcher TBD back to Triple-A. Asuaje should join the club in New York for a three-game series with the Mets starting Tuesday.

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<![CDATA[Renfroe Bashes First Career Walk-Off Homer]]> Mon, 15 May 2017 23:59:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/RenfroeWalkoff.jpg

Padres rookie slugger Hunter Renfroe opened the scoring Monday night against the Brewers with a two-run double in the 2nd inning.

About three hours later, the outfielder ended the game by crushing a two-run homer off of Milwaukee’s Oliver Drake in the bottom of the 10th inning.

It was the first walk-off of Renfroe’s major league career and it gave San Diego a thrilling 6-5 victory.

Renfroe finished with 4 RBI.

Padres starting pitcher Luis Perdomo helped his own cause by smacking his first career triple in the 2nd inning to make it 3-0.

When Renfroe touched home plate on the play, it also gave Perdomo the second RBI of his career.

Perdomo added a double in his next plate appearance and raised his batting average to .250.

Perdomo got in a jam in the top of the 4th inning when the Brewers loaded the bases with nobody out.

After a surprising two-run single by Domingo Santana (it was surprising because he was batting just .125 with the bases loaded for his career), Perdomo was able to escape without further damage.

Perdomo struck out a career-high nine batters over six innings of work.

He allowed just three earned runs over that time and left with a 4-3 lead.

But the bullpen could not keep the Brewers from making a comeback.

The constantly annoying Santana had three hits including the game-tying RBI double in the 8th off of Padres reliever Brad Hand.

That made it 4-4 and helped force extra innings.

Jose Torres made a mistake in the top of the 10th frame when Eric Sogard sent his offering over the wall in right field.

The solo shot put the visitors up 5-4 and it looked like Torres was about to suffer his 3rd loss of the year.

But Renfroe came to the rescue in the bottom half of the inning to save the Padres and hand Torres an unlikely win.

San Diego continues its seven-game homestand Tuesday against the Brewers.

Clayton Richard (2-4) opposes Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson with first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres 'Pen Implodes in Loss]]> Sun, 14 May 2017 15:02:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*126/Padres+Lose+Sunday+White+Sox.JPG

As bad as we expected the Padres starting pitching to be (and it has for the most part not been stellar) lately it’s been the bullpen that has really stunk.

Just this week the Friars relievers took a loss on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. But Sunday was the most egregious of them all. San Diego had a 3-1 lead over the White Sox with just six outs left to get and lost the game 9-3 because they gave up a snowman in the 8th inning.

Starter Jered Weaver, likely pitching to extend his big league career, was stellar. Weaver allowed just one run in 6.0 innings with three strikeouts. It was by far his best outing as a Padre and it looked like he’d get his first win as a National League pitcher.

In the 7th inning Hunter Renfroe launched his 6th home run of the year over the right field wall, a 3-run shot that put the Padres on top 3-1. Kirby Yates tossed a scoreless 7th for the Padres but in the 8th inning the proverbial wheels flew completely off.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist … or a believer in “The Tank” … you’ll know that one of the best ways to ensure a season is going to end with a bunch of losses is to put together a relief corps that has trouble getting people out.

Ryan Buchter started the 8th by getting a groundout then walked two straight batters. He got Avisail Garcia to hit a ground ball to shortstop. It was probably not hit hard enough to turn a double play but Luis Sardinas booted it, got no outs and loaded the bases.

Buchter then issued his third walk of the inning to Todd Frazier force in a run, prompting manager Andy Green to go to closer Brandon Maurer for a 5-out save. Maurer immediately surrendered a single to Melky Cabrera to bring in two runs and put Chicago on top 4-3. Tyler Saladino popped out to Wil Myers at first base and then the White Sox caught the Padres napping.

While Myers was tossing the ball back to Maurer, Todd Frazier broke from third, catching the San Diego infield completely off-guard and scoring another run. The mental lapse was followed by a walk and a single, making Green come out to get Maurer and bring in Craig Stammen.

He allowed a double, a single, a walk, and hit a guy before getting Frazier to fly out to the fence in right-center, a ball that was just a few feet short of being a grand slam. In the inning the Sox scored eight runs on five walks, a hit batter, four hits, an error and a brain cramp.

It might be one of the worst innings in the history of the San Diego Padres and that is truly saying something. San Diego falls to 14-25 on the year. They start a seven-game home stand on Monday at Petco Park against the Brewers.

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<![CDATA[Padres Get Walked Off in Chicago]]> Sat, 13 May 2017 20:52:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/208*120/White+Sox+Walkoff+Winners.JPG

This whole “the Padres are hitting too many home runs” thing might have some legs.

There is nothing wrong with hitting home runs. It’s fun and provides instant offense. The problem the Friars have is they rely far too much on the big fly and don’t manufacture enough runs. That shortcoming was on full display in a 5-4 loss to the White Sox on Saturday night in Chicago.

Manuel Margot pulled a Matt Szczur and hit the first pitch of the game out of the park for a leadoff home run. San Diego also got a solo home run from another rookie, Rule 5 draftee Allen Cordoba in the 3rd inning.

The Friars did find a way to get a run on the board without leaving the yard in the 5th inning. Hunter Renfroe walked, Margot singled and Szczur walked to load the bases. Wil Myers brought home Renfroe with a sacrifice fly to give the Padres a 3-2 lead and put Vista High School alum Trevor Cahill in line for a win.

But in the bottom of the 5th the White Sox did what the Padres have had trouble doing. Kevan Smith singled and went to third on a Tyler Saladino double. Leury Garcia brought home Smith with a fielder’s choice to tie it 3-3. Melky Cabrera singled with two outs to score Saladino and put Chicago on top 4-3. Cahill allowed four runs (three earned) and struck out seven in 6.0 innings.

The Padres tied it up by doing what they do best: hitting solo home runs. Myers launched a 453-foot bomb to left-centerfield in the 8th inning to tie the game 4-4. That was the last hit they got.

In the bottom of the 9th inning the American League team beat the National League team with small ball. Saladino drew a leadoff walk from Brad Hand and moved to 2nd base on a sacrifice bunt by Garcia. Yolmer Sanchez followed with a single up the middle and Saladino dove in just ahead of Margot’s throw to the plate to make Chicago a walk-off winner.

The Padres can still win the series on Sunday behind Jered Weaver, who leads the Major Leagues in home runs allowed and is likely pitching to keep his big league career alive. He’ll face Jose Quintana.

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<![CDATA[Padres Take First Game Against White Sox ]]> Fri, 12 May 2017 23:35:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Austin+Hedges1.jpg

A new city made a huge difference for the Padres. The Friars won their first of three games against the Chicago White Sox Friday night 6-3 at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Matt Szczur, the newest Padre, had a night of firsts. In the first inning, off of the first pitch by White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez, Szczur sent a solo shot to left field and put the Padres on the board 1-0. That was also his first home run of the season with San Diego.

Austin Hedges had a stellar night at the plate. In the third inning the Padres catcher doubled to left field and brought in Cory Spangenberg and Yangerivis Solarte. His RBI double gave the Friars a 3-0 lead. The White Sox got on the board later that inning when outfielder Leury Garcia sent a two run homer to right field. Hedges answered that call with a solo shot in the fifth inning and helped San Diego keep their lead 4-2, marked his eight home run of the year.

The Padres were still up by two runs in the ninth inning, but first baseman Wil Myers wanted to make sure they had some insurance with a 403 foot home run to center field, his ninth of the season. The Friars broke their three game skid with a 6-3 victory over the White Sox.

The second game between the two teams is set for 4:10 p.m. on Saturday, May 13 at Guaranteed Rate Field.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Matt Bush Earns Save Against Padres]]> Wed, 10 May 2017 22:18:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MattBushWEB.jpg

Wednesday night’s game started so well for the Padres.

It ended with disappointment and a bit of irony.

A couple home runs and an early 3-1 lead had the Friars in position for the win after two frames.

But the Rangers fought back behind some bizarre plays to secure a 4-3 victory.

A throwing error by Erick Aybar along with a wild pitch and a balk by starting pitcher Luis Perdomo helped Texas crawl back into the contest and eventually take the lead.

Then in a weird twist of fate, former Padres pitching prospect Matt Bush was on the mound to close the game for the Rangers and with the exception of a 2-out double by rookie Manny Margot, the Padres could not handle his 99 and 100 mile per hour fastballs.

The Mission Bay high school product pitched a scoreless 9th inning and struck out Cory Spangenberg to earn the save against the franchise that once drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft.

The promising start included some fireworks for the Friars. Will Myers bashed his 8th home run of the season in the top of the 1st inning and he left no doubt about it.

Aybar also went yard in the 2nd inning, when he tattooed an offering from Yu Darvish and handed San Diego a 2-1 advantage.

Another bright spot for the visitors was the newest Padre, outfielder Matt Szczur (pronounced “Caesar”) , who was acquired from the Cubs in a trade on Monday.

Padres manager Andy Green gave Szczur his first start in left with his new club and he responded with three hits - including a RBI double in the 2nd.

The Padres fell to 13-22 with the loss and own the second-worst run differential in the majors (-58).

Only the last place San Francisco Giants (-68) have been outscored by more runs as of May 11th.

San Diego has dropped 6 of its last seven games overall but will try to bounce back Thursday at 5 p.m.

Clayton Richard will take the mound for the Friars while Texas counters with Martin Perez.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gwynn Statue Reminds Us of Greatness]]> Tue, 09 May 2017 11:39:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/edt-52702996_10.jpg

How do you define a life well-lived?
It’s a subjective question, no doubt.
Is it money? Is it fame?
Is it love? Is it clout?

Is it taking care of family?
Is it your number of friends?
Or perhaps how many toys you have
Collected by the end?

It’s a topic we can discuss
Over and over for a while.
But maybe the answer is simple as this:
Did you make the people smile?

Did you leave the people that you met
With a big grin on their face?
If you did that then surely you left
The world a better place.

By that definition (one I fully agree with) Tony Gwynn had a life well-lived. Mr. Padre should be turning 57 years old today. Much has been written about the impact he had on baseball fans and the San Diego community. Tuesday’s unveiling of a new statue in Poway is one more example.

It hurts to think about losing a legend. Every year we re-live the heartbreak. While he was with us he made us laugh. Made us cheer. Made us cry. Tony Gwynn played through the heart of the steroid era and reminded us that athletic brilliance can be achieved through sheer power of will instead of via syringe.

While false heroes were falling, slayed by the Mitchell Report, Tony Gwynn was the reminder that there are still good guys out there who do things the right way.

When we look at the statue in Poway (or the one at Petco Park) I’m sure we will all have a different emotion. Some will be sad thinking about the loss. Some will be happy thinking about the joy of watching him play. Some will be angry that he was taken from us far too soon.

The end note on Tony Gwynn’s life well-lived is his purposeful death. You see, Tony Gwynn is saving lives. Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says it was Gwynn’s passing that made him stop using smokeless tobacco.

"I quit that day and haven’t touched it since," Sale said at last year’s All-Star Game at Petco Park, a place Tony Gwynn helped to get built. "In a sense, I owe him a huge thank you.”

Several players have echoed that same sentiment and in December, inspired by Gwynn, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed to a new, 5-year collective bargaining agreement that bans smokeless tobacco for all future players (anyone who has even one day of MLB service time prior to 2017 Opening Day is grandfathered in and may dip if they desire).

Not coincidentally, San Diego native Tony Clark is the Executive Director of the MLBPA. His presence and memories of Gwynn no doubt helped the revolutionary ban go through.

Over time the pain will heal. For many it already has. The new statue in Poway is a tribute to the greatest Padre of all time and however you look upon it there is one inarguable fact:

Tony Gwynn gave San Diego something to be proud of. #RIP19



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Walk Away Winners at Petco Park]]> Sat, 06 May 2017 22:34:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/Bellinger+HR+Celebration.JPG

If there is anyone in Major League Baseball who does not need a whole bunch of run support it’s Clayton Kershaw. But, the Dodgers seem to give it to him when he throws against the Padres.

Los Angeles reached double digits for their ace in a 10-2 win over San Diego at Petco Park. You may recall it was Kershaw who got 14 runs in an Opening Day blowout at Dodger Stadium.

What makes the loss more aggravating for Padres fans is the Dodgers only had eight hits. They almost literally walked their way to a win. San Diego pitchers walked nine L.A. hitters and six of them came around to score.

Padres starter Clayton Richard issued six of those walks and chased then with seven hits allowed in 5.0 innings to take the loss. Once the Dodgers get that many runs for Kershaw the game is basically over. Kershaw struck out nine and took a shutout in to the 8th inning before Ryan Schimpf hit a solo home run, the second time this season Schimpf has gone deep against Kershaw.

If the game was not over at that point, it was after the top of the 9th inning. Miguel Diaz came in and issued the other three walks of the night, then served up a grand slam to Dodgers rookie Chad Bellinger, who has taken Major League Baseball by storm.

In 11 games since being called up Bellinger has hit five homers and driven in 14 runs. The Dodgers can sweep the series on Sunday afternoon (weather permitting). The Padres will send Trevor Cahill to the mound against Brandon McCarthy.

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<![CDATA[Rain Impacting Activities at Petco Park]]> Sat, 06 May 2017 19:55:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/Petco+Park+Rain.JPG

Rain in May in San Diego is not usually a big concern. We only average 0.19 inches in the month. So for the Padres planning a bunch of activities early in the month was a relatively safe decision to make.

But the best-laid plans of pro baseball franchises sometimes go awry.

Due to San Diego’s wet weekend the Padres announced the cancellation of pregame activities at Park at the Park on Sunday. That means Kidsfest, Domingos Padres presented by T-Mobile and Compadres Kids Sunday Signings have all been cancelled, as has the post-game baserunning for the kids.

One planned event, the pregame Little League Day parade, is expected to go on as planned before the 1:40 p.m. series finale against the Dodgers.

Since it is expected to be a wet one on Sunday small umbrellas that fit inside a purse or small tote will be permitted inside Petco Park. No larger umbrellas, including golf umbrellas, are permitted.

Since there have only been two rainouts in Petco Park’s history you might not know the ticket policy in case the game is washed away. Game tickets are not refundable or exchangeable in advance based upon anticipated weather conditions. Should the game be postponed and rescheduled due to weather, tickets for a game would be valid for the same seats when the game is rescheduled.

Additional information about the rain ticket policy can be found at www.padres.com.

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<![CDATA[Padres Myers Finishes Hot Month]]> Mon, 01 May 2017 14:35:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/wil-myers-homer-giants-april30-ap.jpg

When Wil Myers signed his 6-year, $83 million contract the Padres expected him to be more than just the All-Star 1st baseman he’s turned in to.

They expected him to be the leader of the team and set the tone for the youth movement the franchise undertook. To steal a line from Swingers they wanted him to be “The guy behind the guy behind the guy” while still becoming the face of the franchise.

It is the largest contract the Padres have ever given out and right now it’s looking like they got a bargain, and not just because he has taken a liking to hitting giant extra-inning home runs to beat the Giants.

Myers leads the Padres in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, batting average, doubles, triples, slugging percentage, OPS and bat flips. That’s not too shabby. Now, he’s striking out at an alarming rate (29.1% in April, easily a career high) but he’s also hitting the ball harder than he ever has. I’m about to get geeky on you so hang with for just a moment please.

After the first month of the season Myers has an ISO of .283 (ISO is a stat that measures raw power) and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a robust .384. What that means is Myers is among the league leaders when it comes to power hitting metrics, even better than Marlins masher Giancarlo Stanton.

Myers’ numbers this April are well above his career average for the month and traditionally he spikes in June, suggesting the best offensive season of his career to date has commenced.

So from a purely statistical standpoint Myers is living up to his big dollar deal. But spending time around the clubhouse you can also see the impact he’s having on the kids. Myers has taken on more of a leadership role, answering questions that young players have and offering advice when they’re struggling. What’s doubly good is he has not lost his general demeanor, keeping that unflappable "never too high or too low" attitude.

As the Padres grow up on the job they need someone to be the steadying force when things inevitably go haywire. Myers has the personality … and now the desire to be that guy.



Photo Credit: NBC Sports Bay Area staff]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Bash Big Homers to Beat Giants]]> Sun, 30 Apr 2017 18:07:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/182*120/Myers+Sf+Bat+Flip.JPG

For whatever reason, the Padres are really good in 3-game series and really bad in 4-game series.

San Diego is 9-6 when they play a team three days in a row … but 2-10 in 4-game sets. On Sunday they finished a trio in San Francisco so you had a pretty good idea that something positive was going to happen.

The Padres got a pair of timely home runs to beat the Giants 5-2 in 12 innings at AT&T Park. The first came in the 9th inning. San Francisco led 2-0 when Hector Sanchez smashed a 2-run shot off Giants closer Mark Melancon to tie it up and force extras.

The second bomb came in the 12th inning. Wil Myers hit another 3-run shot, the second straight game he’s done that, off George Kontos to give the Padres the win. It was the team-leading 7th home run of the year for Myers, who had a chance to be the hero thanks to a tremendous job by the San Diego bullpen.

Starting pitcher Clayton Richard gave up two runs in 5.1 innings and after him Brad Hand, Brandon Maurer, Ryan Buchter and Jose Torres combined to toss 6.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing a combined two hits while striking out six.

So the Padres finish April at 11-16, which is not too shabby when you consider they played 18 games on the road and only nine at home, where they have a 5-4 record. In May that flips. San Diego gets 18 games at Petco Park and just 11 on the road.

The Friars start an 8-game homestand on Tuesday night against the first-place Colorado Rockies in former manager Bud Black’s first game back in the East Village.

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<![CDATA[Padres Pummel Giants]]> Sat, 29 Apr 2017 22:42:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Wil+Myers+HR+Congrats+in+SF.JPG

Scoring eight runs in a Major League Baseball game is tough to do. The Padres had only done it once this season, on Wednesday in Arizona.

So the 6th inning of Saturday night’s game against the Giants was more than a little bit unexpected.

The Padres scored eight times in the inning en route to a 12-4 win at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. The 6th started with the Giants up 3-1. Then this happened:

•    Wil Myers single
•    Yangervis Solarte single
•    Ryan Schimpf double, Myers scores, 3-2 Giants
•    Hunter Renfroe reaches on fielder’s choice
•    Austin Hedges single, Schimpf scores, 3-3
•    Erick Aybar walk
•    Hector Sanchez walk, Renfroe scores, 4-3 Padres
•    Manuel Margot single, Hedges scores, 5-3 Padres
•    Cory Spangenberg fielder’s choice, Aybar scores, 6-3 Padres
•    Myers home run, Allen Cordoba (pinch-runner) and Spangenberg score, 9-3 Padres
•    Solarte strikeout

The Myers home run flew halfway up the stands in left-centerfield, one of the longer homers you'll see at night in San Francisco. The Padres scored three more runs in the 7th inning on a 3-run big fly from Cordoba, the second dinger of his young MLB career. The Padres hammered out 14 hits on the night.

The offensive explosion helped Jhoulys Chacin get his third win but his first away from Petco Park. Chacin allowed three runs and struck out six in 5.0 innings.

The Padres can win the series on Sunday behind Clayton Richard. The veteran lefty gets the final start of April against Giants left-hander Ty Blach.

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<![CDATA[Weaver Struggles Again in Loss to Arizona]]> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 06:14:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WeaverRoughedUpWEB.jpg

Jered Weaver’s tendency to give up home runs is not going away.

After allowing three more round-trippers in a 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks Thursday night, Weaver’s ERA rose to 4.71.

What’s more disturbing is that Weaver has already allowed ten homers in his first five starts as a Padre.

To put that in perspective, the veteran righty has only struck out 14 batters this year.

Chris Owings certainly likes playing against the Friars. The D’backs second baseman crushed a pair of homers off of Weaver to bring his season total to four.

Three have come against San Diego this week alone.

Meanwhile, Taijuan Walker fooled the Padres lineup and improved to 3-1 after striking out 11 batters in eight solid innings.

Padres infielder Ryan Schimpf managed to go yard for the second straight day when he bashed a solo shot in the 7th inning but it was too little too late.

Yangervis Solarte collected another RBI in the first inning when he singled home Wil Myers.

Solarte leads the Padres with 16 RBI, while Myers still owns the best batting average at a .316 clip.

After dropping three of four contests in the desert, San Diego starts a three-game series up in San Francisco with a Friday date against the Giants.

Luis Perdomo is expected to take the mound while the Giants are scheduled to pitch Jeff Samardzija who is off to an 0-4 start with a 7.40 ERA.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins Ride Big Inning to Series Win]]> Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:39:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/162*120/4-23-17+Marlins+Beat+Padres.JPG

When the wheels come off for the Padres they really come off fast and fly all over the place. In the span of six batters on Sunday the Friars went from a 3-run lead to a 3-run deficit en route to a 7-3 loss to the Marlins at Petco Park.

Padres right-hander Luis Perdomo came off the disabled list to make his second start of the season and was scoreless through 5.0 innings. He had a 3-0 lead to work with courtesy of an RBI single by Yangervis Solarte and a towering 2-run home run by Hunter Renfroe, a 410-foot blast to straightaway centerfield.

But just like in his first start of the season against the Giants, things went sour for Perdomo in the 6th inning. He gave up a single to Martin Prado, walked Christian Yelich and served up a single to Giancarlo Stanton to make it a 3-1 game. Padres Manager Andy Green went and got Perdomo, replacing him with Craig Stammen, who needed 11 pitches to allow a double, a single and then a monster 2-run home run to Justin Bour.

Six hitters up, six hitters in and the Marlins had a 6-3 lead. Kevin Quackenbush, who is looking a lot like the guy the Padres through was closer material just a couple of years ago before struggling and bouncing up and down between Petco Park and Triple-A El Paso, came in and got six straight outs. Quack has not allowed an earned run yet in 2017.

The other positive offensive note for the Padres was rookie centerfielder Manuel Margot, who singled twice and was on base three times.

The Padres lose their first home series of the season and now hit the road again. They start a 4-game series in Arizona on Monday with Jhoulys Chacin on the mound against Zack Greinke.

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<![CDATA[Padres Fall in Extra Innings]]> Sat, 22 Apr 2017 21:17:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/186*120/Marlins+Win+Saturday+Night.JPG

Saturday night the old adage that pitching and defense win championships was proven true. Over a span of six outs the Marlins played amazing defense while the Padres kicked the ball around like it was the first day of Spring Training.

Miami beat San Diego 6-2 in 11 innings at Petco Park and it was in extra innings where that defense came in to play. In the bottom of the 10th the Padres had runners at 1st and 2nd with one out. Manuel Margot hit a grounder towards left field but 3rd baseman Martin Prado made a diving stop and got an out at 2nd base.

The next hitter was Erick Aybar, who thought he had a walk-off single but Prado made an unreal diving stab of a screaming line drive to end the inning. In the top of the 11th the Padres defense was not quite as good, and that’s the kindest possible way of saying it.

Justin Bour led off with a single. Marlins infielder Dee Gordon followed with a dribbler up the 1st base line. Padres lefty Jose Torres fielded it but his throw went wild and up the right field line. Then the ball rolled right by rookie right fielder Hunter Renfroe and all the way to the wall, allowing Gordon to run around and score to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.

Miami got another pair of runs when Giancarlo Stanton smoked his second home run of the game, a missile to left field to put the Marlins on top 6-2.

The only runs the Padres got in regulation came on a 2-run home run by catcher Austin Hedges, who went deep for the 3rd straight game. Hedges also drove in the Padres final run with a groundout in the bottom of the 11th.

Padres starter Jered Weaver made his first start at Petco Park for his new team and, aside from two pitches, threw pretty well. Weaver went 6.0 innings and allowed only four hits but two of them left the yard. Stanton and Prado both hit solo shots off the right-hander who is still looking for his first Padres win.

The Padres can win the series on Sunday behind Luis Perdomo, who will come off the disabled list to take the mound against Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler.

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<![CDATA[Braves Lift Off to Beat Padres]]> Sat, 15 Apr 2017 20:04:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/191*120/Braves+Beat+Padres+on+Jackie+Robinson+Day.JPG

Padres lefty Clayton Richard is at his best when he keeps the ball down and gets opposing batters to hit the ball on the ground. But that may have gone just a little bit too far on Saturday night in Atlanta.

Richard recorded 18 outs against the Braves: 16 by ground ball, two by strikeout, zero by flyout. When the ball did get in the air it did not end well; two of the fly balls he allowed left the ballpark in a 4-2 loss at SunTrust Park in suburban Atlanta.

The Padres only runs came in the 2nd inning when rookie outfielder Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges hit back-to-back home runs off Braves knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Both Renfroe and Hedges had a pair of hits but the rest of the San Diego lineup had just four knocks.

The Padres had chances to score but went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Atlanta evened the game with a pair of runs in the 3rd inning on a series of singles and took the lead for good in the 6th when Brandon Phillips and Adonis Garcia hit back-to-back home runs off Richard.

Interestingly, Jose Torres and Brad Hand came on in relief and neither of them recorded a fly ball out either but Hand did get Garcia to hit a line drive to Renfroe in right field for the last out of the 8th inning.

San Diego’s best chance to even it up came in the top of the 7th inning. Allen Cordoba, who at the age of 21 is exactly half the age of the man he was facing, led off with a single off Dickey. Pinch-hitter Christian Bethancourt also singled to put two runners on with nobody out but Manuel Margot lined out to right field and Wil Myers grounded in to a double play to kill their last real threat.

Game three of the 4-game set is Sunday with a 10:35 a.m. start time for fans on the West Coast. Vista High School alum Trevor Cahill will come off the disabled list to make his second start of the season against another seasoned starter, 43-year-old Bartolo Colon.

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<![CDATA[Padres Pitch a Shutout at Coors Field]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 17:21:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Zach+Lee+at+Coors+Field.JPG

It’s only 10 games … but man does it feel good for Padres fans.

The Friars got a great start from Zach Lee and more offense from the top of the order to beat the Rockies 6-0 on Wednesday afternoon. San Diego has won two straight series against division opponents and is an even 5-5 on the season.

The fact the Padres are at the .500 mark after basically every national baseball reporter said they would be the worst team in baseball in 2017 is a mini-victory of sorts for the Friar Faithful.

It has been awfully nice to have Manuel Margot at the top of the order. For the fifth time in the last six games Manny led off the game with a base hit. This time is was a double off Rockies starter Kyle Freeland, a knock that touched off a rally.

Wil Myers followed with a double to plate Margot with a 1-0 lead. Then Yangervis Solarte singled in Myers for a 2-0 lead. Two batters later Ryan Schimpf hit his second home run of the season, a 2-run laser to right field that put the Padres up 4-0. San Diego batted around in the first inning and they didn’t know it at the time but that was going to be plenty of offense for Zach Lee.

The former 1st round pick of the Dodgers had not started a game in 2017 and his only other Major League start came in 2015. He was called up because Trevor Cahill went on the disabled list but he looked like a veteran at Coors Field.

Lee threw 5.1 shutout innings, striking out three and allowing only two hits. Relievers Jose Torres, Ryan Buchter, Jake Esch (just called up from Double-A San Antonio when Luis Perdomo went on the DL) and Brandon Maurer finished the shutout to give Lee his first big league win.

The Padres got two more runs in the 5th inning. Hunter Renfroe singled home Myers (who walked) then Schimpf got his third RBI of the day with a sacrifice fly to score Solarte (who singled).

In one more positive offensive note catcher Austin Hedges got his first base hit of the season. After starting 0-24 he hit a dribbler up the 3rd base line for an infield single.

San Diego takes Thursday off then starts a 4-game set against the Braves to open their brand new ballpark on Friday. Former Padre Matt Kemp will not be part of that series. He’s on the DL with a hamstring issue.

Atlanta will have the guy they want on the mound. All-Star right-hander Julio Teheran, who has not allowed an earned run yet this season, gets the nod against Padres righty Jhoulys Chacin.

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<![CDATA[Padres Drop Tight One in Denver]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 22:35:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Cargo+HR+vs+Padres.JPG

Three times this year the Padres have had a chance to have a winning record. Three times they have come up short.

The Friars fell to Colorado 3-2 at Coors Field on Tuesday night to drop to 4-5 on the season despite what seemed like a promising start.

Rookie centerfielder Manuel Margot let off the game with a home run, the 2nd time in five games he’s gone deep to start a game. Margot has hit three home runs in nine games this year after hitting a total of six in 124 games with Triple-A El Paso last year.

The Padres got their other run in the 6th inning when Wil Myers hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Margot. Myers also tripled for the second straight game and has driven in eight runs in nine games.

On the mound Padres starter Jered Weaver was pretty good in the mile-high air. Weaver went 6.0 innings, struck out five and did not walk anyone. He allowed three hits but two of them were solo home runs to Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. He left with the score tied 2-2.

The Padres bullpen had one little hiccup. In the 7th inning Miguel Diaz, who earned his first career big league win on Monday night, gave up an opposite field home run to All-Star 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado. It was the first MLB run Diaz has allowed and it saddled him with his first MLB loss.

San Diego put the tying run at 2nd base in the 9th inning against Colorado closer Greg Holland but Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges both struck out to end the game. Hedges is 0-for-23 at the plate to start the season.

The Padres are going to place right-handed pitcher Luis Perdomo on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Zach Lee will start in Perdomo’s place in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale in Denver against Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland. Jake Esch, who the Padres claimed off waivers from the Marlins at the end of March, will be recalled from Double-A San Antonio to fill Perdomo’s roster spot.

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<![CDATA[Myers Hits For Cycle in Padres Win]]> Tue, 11 Apr 2017 07:55:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/WilMyersCYCLE4WEB.jpg

Matt Kemp is no longer the only answer to the question: Who has hit for the cycle in a Padres uniform?

Wil Myers earned the second spot in that illustrious club Monday in Denver as the All-Star helped San Diego earn a 5-3 victory over the Rockies.

Myers singled in the 1st inning off of Colorado starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood.

Then in his second at-bat, the first baseman doubled and plated rookie Manny Margot to give the Padres a 1-0 lead in the 3rd.

When Myers led off the 6th inning, he sent an 0-2 fastball from Chatwood over the right-field fence. That put Myers just a triple away from completing the cycle.

Carlos Estevez relieved Chatwood but did not have any success retiring the Padres slugger when he came up again in the 8th inning.

Myers quickly poked a base knock into the gap in left-center.

As the ball rolled towards the warning track, he hustled around the infield dirt and after a brief stumble around second, he wound up with a stand-up triple for the second cycle in the history of the San Diego Padres.

Ironically, Myers saw Kemp accomplish the same feat in person on August 14, 2015 – in the same city.

Kemp collected a single, double, triple, and homer at Coors Field during Myers’ first season with the Friars.

Hunter Renfroe also smacked a 2-run home run in the 6th inning. The blast by the rookie rightfielder made it 4-0 Padres and was more than enough for the bullpen to close it out.

Jarred Cosart pitched four shutout innings for the Friars in a spot start for Vista native Trevor Cahill.

Cahill was placed on the 10-day disabled list over the weekend with a lower back strain but manager Andy Green said Sunday that he plans to have Cahill back on the mound when his spot comes back around in the rotation.

Former Padres manager and current Rockies skipper Buddy Black complimented Myers after the game saying, “His strength is his ability to hit the ball to all fields, and he’s realizing that potential.”

It’s hard to believe that in 20 seasons in San Diego, Tony Gwynn never hit for the cycle despite a .338 career batting average.

We can probably all agree that if Mr. Padre was still with us, he would have been very proud of Myers after the show he put on Monday night in a winning effort.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Win Again, Take Series From Giants]]> Sat, 08 Apr 2017 21:28:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/Padres+Beat+Giants.JPG

In 2016 the Giants beat the Padres the first nine times they played. But after the All-Star Break San Diego went 8-2 against San Francisco.

That has absolutely nothing to do with anything since this Friars team is completely different but it’s kind of fun to say the Padres have beaten the Giants 10 out of their last 12 meetings.

The Friars topped the Giants 2-1 on Saturday night at Petco Park. San Diego starter Jhoulys Chacin rebounded from his disastrous Opening Day start at Dodger Stadium with a fantastic outing: three hits, five strikeouts and one walk in 6.2 shutout innings to get his first win in a Padres uniform.

Chacin was staked to an early lead thanks to the youngsters. For the second straight game Manuel Margot led off with a big hit. In Friday’s home opener it was a leadoff home run. Saturday night the 22-year-old rookie doubled off Bumgarner and scored on a double by fellow rookie outfielder Hunter Renfroe to put San Diego on top 1-0.

The very next inning Margot doubled again, this time pushing Allen Cordoba across for a 2-0 lead. Cordoba, the rookie Rule 5 draftee who had never played above rookie ball, got his first big league hit against Bumgarner, a former World Series MVP.

That turned out to be enough for the Padres staff. Brad Hand relieved Chacin and worked a perfect 1.1 innings before handing the ball to Ryan Buchter for the 9th inning. Buchter gave up an RBI single to Brandon Crawford before getting Eduardo Nunez to fly out to end it.

The Padres are back to the .500 mark at 3-3. They can move above .500 for the first time since June of 2015 with a win on Sunday in the series finale. Clayton Richard will try to build off his 8.0 shutout innings against the Dodgers on Tuesday. The Giants will throw Johnny Cueto, who started the All-Star Game for the National League at Petco Park last year.

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<![CDATA[Padres Win Their Home Opener]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:36:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Petco+Park+Home+Opener+2017.JPG

Yangervis Solarte needs to be a Padre for as long as he is playing professional baseball. Not only is he a great clubhouse presence, he is turning in to a heck of a baseball player.

Solarte drove in four runs in the Padres home opener to help San Diego to a 7-6 win over the Giants in front of 43,441 fans at Petco Park.

San Francisco got on the board in the 1st inning when Padres starter Luis Perdomo balked with Joe Panik on 3rd base to gift San Francisco a run. After that Perdomo retired 11 consecutive Giants hitters while his offense went out and got him a lead.

Manuel Margot got the Padres right back in to it with a leadoff shot off of Matt Cain, the first Major League long ball of Margot’s career. He also went deep in his second at-bat to make the 22-year old rookie the 4th-youngest Padre to have a multi-homer game.

Yangervis Solarte drove in two runs with a pair of singles to give the Padres a 4-1 lead but in the 6th inning Perdomo got in trouble and couldn’t get out. San Francisco loaded the bases on a single, a double and a walk and Padres Manager Andy Green decided to let Perdomo try to work out of it with nobody out.

Giants 1st baseman Brandon Belt crushed a grand slam to right-center to put the Giants on top 5-4. It was the second time salami Padres pitchers have allowed this week, both on Opening Day. Joc Pederson touched up Jhoulys Chacin in the season opener at Dodger Stadium on Monday.

The Padres re-took the lead in the 7th inning. Travis Jankowski walked and Wil Myers singled to bring up Solarte and once again the fan favorite came up huge. Yangervis doubled to the call in right-centerfield to bring in two runs and put the Padres back on top 6-5. They tacked on one more run when Green decided to play a little small ball.

Austin Hedges executed the safety squeeze to perfection, laying down a bunt to bring home Solarte with what turned out to be the game-winning run.

In the 8th Belt hit his second homer of the game to make it a one-run affair. Brandon Maurer worked the 9th to get his first save of the season. The Padres improve to 2-3 and drop the Giants to 1-4 and last place in the National League West. Game two of the series is Saturday night at Petco Park. Chacin gets the start against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

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<![CDATA[Padres Fans to Gather for Home Opener]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 07:34:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/liberty6am0407_1200x675_916223555786.jpg

NBC 7's Liberty Zabala talks with Wayne Partello, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer on Friday, April 7 - the home opener for the 2017 season.

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<![CDATA[Padres Bounce Back, Shut Out Dodgers]]> Tue, 04 Apr 2017 23:47:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/174*120/Yangervis+Solarte+HR+in+LA.JPG

The last time the Padres did not have a losing record was June 13th of 2015 when they were 32-32. Since then they have been under .500 the entire time (except on Opening Day when they’re 0-0).

Now … finally ... 661 days later … the Padres once again do not have a losing record. They bounced back from a 14-3 loss in the opener with a 4-0 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday night in Los Angeles thanks to a pair of veterans.

Infielder Yangervis Solarte is off to a nice start. He drove in a run off of Clayton Kershaw on Monday and doubled down on that with a pair of hits, including a solo home run off Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda. Solarte drove in half of San Diego’s runs.

1st baseman Wil Myers had a pair of hits, as did rookie Manny Margot, and veteran shortstop Erick Aybar went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles. All that support was plenty for the resurgent Clayton Richard.

The lefty had a rough Cactus League but dialed in on Tuesday night. Richard tossed eight shutout innings, striking out five. But his biggest weapon was the Dodger Stadium infield.

Richard, who thrives when he can keep the ball down, induced four double play balls and got 16 outs on the ground. Only three Dodgers recorded fly ball outs. Brad Hand threw a perfect 9th inning in his first appearance of the season to secure the win.

Now … dare we dream? The Padres can have a winning record if they win on Wednesday. Vista High School alum Trevor Cahill makes his first start as a Padre against Dodgers lefty Rich Hill. The last time the Friars were over .500, by the way, was on June 8 of 2015 when they were 30-29.

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<![CDATA[Padres Have Big Plans for Opening Day]]> Tue, 04 Apr 2017 22:31:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Petco+Park+2016+Opening+Day+Home+Plate+View.JPG

The Padres play their first games of the 2017 at Petco Park this weekend against the Giants and they have a whole lot of fun stuff planned for the weekend.

On Friday, the second Opening Day of the week, the Padres are giving away an Opening Day t-shirt for their 3:40 start against San Francisco. That goes along with the year’s first Party in the Park, which is like a giant Happy Hour featuring $5 drink specials, live music and entertainment at the Park at the Park. Entry is included with a paid ticket to Opening Day, which is already sold out.

Before we get to the rest of the weekend, the sellout crowd should know there are a few new ways to go about parking for Padres games this year. You can pre-purchase parking for off-site locations, including the San Diego Convention Center and Bayfront Hilton, by visiting www.padres.com/transportation.

Guests without pre-purchased parking passes are advised to utilize public transportation or Uber, which has a new designated ridesharing pickup and drop off zone located on Park Blvd. near the Convention Center. As the preferred ride share partner of the Padres, Uber is providing fans a free first ride (up to $15) by using code: PETCOPARK.

Also, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) will offer additional "Special Event" trolley service from Qualcomm Stadium (with 5,000 free parking spots) and Mission Valley stations to the ballpark area.  You can read about those by visiting www.padres.com/transportation.

Now that you’re all parked, game two of the opening series on Saturday will feature the first Baseball Night in San Diego of the year with a 5:40 p.m. start. That one will have a Celebrate San Diego theme playing off the the February community rally at Petco Park. Once again the San Diego Gulls, San Diego Sockers, Albion SC Pros, San Diego State Aztecs, and the University of San Diego Toreros will be involved in a ceremony. That game is followed by a Celebrate SD-themed postgame laser show.

Sunday will be Military Opening Day for the series finale, a 1:40 p.m. start that will feature more than 100 service members representing all branches of the Armed Services lining the base paths, as well as an aerial demonstration by the U.S. Navy Parachute team, also known as the Leap Frogs, and the 50 State Flag Team from Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Also keep in mind standard Petco Park security procedures, including walk-through metal detectors, will be in place for every game. All fans must be screened and have their bags checked as they enter the ballpark. Express Entry lines will be available at all main gates for Season Ticket Members and fans without bags.

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<![CDATA[2017 MLB Season Predictions]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:31:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/Chicago+Cubs+Serie+Mundial11.jpg

As the old saying goes, hope springs eternal … and no time is that more true than on Opening Day.

Monday is the first day of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. The real opening day, not the 3-game appetizer MLB gave us on Sunday. The Padres are expected by many to be the single worst team in the big leagues.

I understand the concerns of most national prognosticators. San Diego has six rookies on the club, including three Rule 5 draftees. The Padres are the 2nd-youngest team in baseball at an average of 27 years and seven days (16 days older than the Cincinnati Reds) but Jered Weaver and Erick Aybar are busting the curve there.

The Padres have 14 players on their Opening Day roster age 26 and under. But all those guys are extremely talented. Hunter Renfroe (25 years old) and Manuel Margot (22) should both challenge for the NL Rookie of the Year award and Luis Perdomo (23) led the team in wins a year ago. I’m thinking they’ll take their lumps this year but they won’t have the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

So here is how I see the 2017 MLB season playing out, division-by-division, with the World Series champs and major post-season award winners.

National League West

1)    Los Angeles Dodgers
2)    San Francisco Giants (Wild Card)
3)    Colorado Rockies
4)    Arizona Diamondbacks
5)    San Diego Padres

The Dodgers and Giants might be interchangeable and I see both of them making the playoffs. The Rockies could have the best lineup in baseball but their starting pitching rivals the Padres in awfulness. The Diamondbacks have pieces but not enough and no hope on the horizon. The Padres are looking to 2019.

National League Central

1)    Chicago Cubs
2)    St. Louis Cardinals
3)    Pittsburgh Pirates
4)    Cincinnati Reds
5)    Milwaukee Brewers

The Cubs are the most talented team in baseball and the reigning World Series champs. It will be interesting to see how they handle trying to stay on top. The Cardinals are always in contention because they’re the Cardinals. The Pirates will be competitive but don’t have the horses to run with the rest of the division. The Reds and Brewers will fight the Padres for the worst record in baseball.

National League East

1)    New York Mets
2)    Washington Nationals (Wild Card)
3)    Miami Marlins
4)    Philadelphia Phillies
5)    Atlanta Braves

The Mets and Nationals have pitching coming out of their ears. They’ll both be in the post-season. The Marlins will scare a few teams and create havoc with a lineup that has a lot more weapons than just Giancarlo Stanton. Miami is a dark horse Wild Card contender. The Phillies and Braves are in rebuilding mode.

American League West

1)    Houston Astros
2)    Texas Rangers (Wild Card)
3)    Seattle Mariners
4)    Los Angeles Angels
5)    Oakland Athletics

The Astros and Rangers are, like the NL West, almost interchangeable. They’re both stacked. But unlike the NL West there is a 3rd legitimate threat here. Seattle is going to be in the playoff mix this year. The Angels have Mike Trout and ... the Angels have Mike Trout. Oakland is rebuilding again.

American League Central

1)    Cleveland Indians
2)    Detroit Tigers
3)    Kansas City Royals
4)    Minnesota Twins
5)    Chicago White Sox

This is the most clear-cut division in baseball. The Indians are going to run away and hide. The Tigers and Royals might be able to stay in contention for a Wild Card but nobody is catching Cleveland in the Central. Minnesota has young pieces but they aren’t ready to make a playoff push yet. The White Sox have a few great players with zero support.

American League East

1)    Boston Red Sox
2)    Toronto Blue Jays (Wild Card)
3)    Baltimore Orioles
4)    Tampa Bay Rays
5)    New York Yankees

The Red Sox adding Chris Sale to the staff made them the easy favorites in the East. They have a younger but wildly talented lineup, too. The Blue Jays will once again club their way to the playoffs just ahead of the O’s. I put Tampa Bay ahead of New York mostly because I want to see a team with a near-$200 million payroll finish last.

Playoffs

NL Wild Card Game: Giants over Nationals
AL Wild Card Game: Rangers over Blue Jays
NL Division Series: Cubs over Giants, Dodgers over Mets
AL Division Series: Indians over Rangers, Astros over Red Sox
NL Championship Series: Cubs over Dodgers
AL Championship Series: Indians over Astros
World Series: Indians over Cubs

The Cubs and Indians are the two most complete teams in the game. This time the Game 7 thriller goes to Tito and his Tribe.

Awards

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Nationals
NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner, Giants
NL Rookie of the Year: Hunter Renfroe, Padres
NL Manager of the Year: Terry Collins, Mets
AL MVP: Carlos Correa, Astros
AL Cy Young Award: Chris Sale, Red Sox
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
AL Manager of the Year: A.J. Hinch, Astros



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Set Opening Day Roster]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:45:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/san-diego-padres-generic-sp.jpg

The San Diego Padres have finalized their 2017 Opening Day roster. As expected it is young and interesting. Here's the squad they'll take to Los Angeles on Monday:

PITCHERS (12)

 

  • RHP Jhoulys Chacin
  • LHP Clayton Richard
  • RHP Trevor Cahill
  • RHP Jered Weaver
  • RHP Luis Perdomo
  • RHP Brandon Maurer
  • LHP Ryan Buchter
  • RHP Jarred Cosart
  • LHP Brad Hand
  • RHP Craig Stammen
  • LHP Jose Torres
  • RHP Miguel Diaz (Rule 5 draftee)

 

Not many surprises in this group although RHP Phil Maton impressed in Spring Training. He and his 96-MPH heater will be in El Paso to continue learning how to be a closer.

CATCHERS (4)

 

  • Austin Hedges
  • Christian Bethancourt
  • Hector Sanchez
  • Luis Torrens (Rule 5 draftee)

 

Bethancourt is basically going to be the 8th relief pitcher so he's the emergency backup to the emergency backup catcher. Hedges is the undisputed starter. They want to hang on to Torrens because the kid was one of the top prospects in the incredibly deep Yankees system. He’s on 20 years old, though, and since Hedges is just 31 at-bats over the rookie limit they need another veteran in the mix. Sanchez has done a nice job filling that role.

INFIELDERS (6)

 

  • Wil Myers
  • Yangervis Solarte
  • Erick Aybar
  • Luis Sardinas
  • Ryan Schimpf
  • Allen Cordoba (Rule 5 draftee)

 

They also want to hang on to Cordoba because the kid was one of the top prospects in the incredibly deep Cardinals system. Sardinas made it over Cory Spangenberg because they need an experienced backup at SS to give Aybar a breather. Now I know what you’re thinking. If they have six infielders then that only leaves them three roster spots left. This is where position flexibility is likely going to come in handy.

OUTFIELDERS (3)

 

  • Manuel Margot
  • Hunter Renfroe
  • Travis Jankowski

 

Keep in mind Bethancourt, Cordoba and Myers can all play the outfield, as well, and Solarte can back up Myers at 1st if Wil has to spell someone at his old spot.

It's nice to see the team keep Margot up. There was talk of him starting the year at El Paso due to service time concerns but he earned his roster spot.

The Padres will have three Rule 5 draftees on the roster and a total of six rookies (Diaz, Torrens, Cordoba, Torres, Renfroe, and Margot) in the mix. Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is still in the talent accumulation phase of the great San Diego rebuild so it stands to reason that they’ll let the kids take their lumps this year hoping it pays off a couple of years down the road.

Also remember the roster is going to change before the month of April ends. Poway native Alex Dickerson is expected back soon from a back injury. Pitchers Carter Capps and Christian Friedrich are also not far from being over their injuries and they will likely be quick to re-join the big league club.

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<![CDATA[San Diego Padres GM AJ Preller Talks With NBC 7]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:38:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AJ-Preller-NBC-7-Spring-Training-Pic.jpg

As NBC 7's Derek Togerson reports, the San Diego Padres begin the season with 14 players age 26 or younger.
 

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<![CDATA[Padres Roster Prediction]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 21:42:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/AJ+Preller+Spring+Training.JPG

After watching the Padres beat their advanced A-ball affiliate 4-2 at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore there is no doubt San Diego’s system is flush with talent. It’s young talent but it is serious, freaky, athletic talent.

Some of the Padres’ young talent is going to be on display at Petco Park this year, a whole lot sooner than most people thought. On the eve of FanFest at Petco Park, I figured it would be fun to try and predict the Opening Day roster. Here’s how I see the 25-man shaping up for the April 3 opener at Dodger Stadium:

PITCHERS (13)

RHP Jhoulys Chacin
LHP Clayton Richard
RHP Trevor Cahill
RHP Jered Weaver
RHP Luis Perdomo
RHP Brandon Maurer
RHP Christian Bethancourt
LHP Ryan Buchter
RHP Jarred Cosart
LHP Brad Hand
RHP Craig Stammen
LHP Jose Torres
RHP Miguel Diaz (Rule 5 draftee)

Yes, 13 pitchers and that means the concept of so-called “bullpenning” would very much be on the table for this team this year. The idea there, in a nutshell, is no pitcher … not even the starter … goes more than once or twice through the opposing team’s lineup. That’s something we’ll get in to more on another day because it is a fascinating discussion worth more analysis than we have time for here.

CATCHERS (3)

Austin Hedges
Hector Sanchez
Luis Torrens (Rule 5 draftee)

They want to hang on to Torrens because the kid was one of the top prospects in the incredibly deep Yankees system. He’s on 20 years old, though, and since Hedges is just 31 at-bats over the rookie limit they need another veteran in the mix. Sanchez has done a nice job filling that role.

INFIELDERS (6)

Wil Myers
Yangervis Solarte
Erick Aybar
Cory Spangenberg
Ryan Schimpf
Allen Cordoba (Rule 5 draftee)

They also want to hang on to Cordoba because the kid was one of the top prospects in the incredibly deep Cardinals system. He is also the only natural shortstop to give Aybar a breather. Now I know what you’re thinking. If they have six infielders then that only leaves them three roster spots left. This is where position flexibility is likely going to come in handy.

OUTFIELDERS (3)

Manuel Margot
Hunter Renfroe
Travis Jankowski

I understand not every guy can play every day for 162 games. But keep in mind Poway native Alex Dickerson is expected back soon from a back injury so that will change things. Also keep in mind Spangenberg, Cordoba and Myers can all play the outfield, as well, and Solarte can back up Myers at 1st if Wil has to spell someone at his old spot.

If it plays out like this it means the Padres will have three Rule 5 draftees on the roster and a total of six rookies (Diaz, Torrens, Cordoba, Torres, Renfroe, and Margot) in the mix. Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is still in the talent accumulation phase of the great San Diego rebuild so it stands to reason that they’ll let the kids take their lumps this year hoping it pays off a couple of years down the road.

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<![CDATA[Padres Roster Could Look Quite ... Interesting]]> Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:49:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Andy+Green+Outside+Dugout+2017.JPG

Want to know what the Padres roster is going to look like on Opening Day they play the Dodgers in Los Angeles?

Hang on. This will take a while.

As of Wednesday, March 29, 2017 the Padres are kicking around the idea of having what would be, hands down, the most unique roster in all of Major League Baseball.

“It’s an interesting roster composition that we’re flirting with at this point in time,” said Manager Andy Green. He is in no way exaggerating.

“The possibility still exists that technically in the world’s eyes you’re carrying possibly four catchers if you carry Christian Bethancourt, Hector Sanchez, Luis Torrens and Austin Hedges,” said Green.

That’s right, four catchers. However, as is the case with a lot of stuff these days where the Padres are concerned, that number comes with a caveat.

“Now Bethancourt, if we keep him in that scenario we’re looking at him more as an 8th reliever rather than a true catcher. His predominant role will be in the bullpen.”

I know you’ve all heard about the Bethancourt to the bullpen thing plenty of times already but as Spring Training has played out he truly has become the guy around which the Padres roster will be built.

“He changes the whole complexion of the roster,” said Green. “There’s a lot of intrigue in his arm. He’s been up to 97 MPH at times. There are times he’s flashed plus plus plus-stuff. We don’t have the opportunity to send him down to let him develop as a pitcher. We have to allow that to happen at the Major League level and we think there’s long-term value in him.”

If they do end up keeping Bethancourt as well as the other three catchers it minimizes what the Friars can do in the field because they’d have have 16 roster spots spoken for, leaving only nine more for the infield and outfield.

The likely breakdown there is five infielders and four outfielders, and if you think you know who those guys will be trust me, you don’t. The Padres might keep as many and three Rule 5 draftees on the roster this year.

“When you’re looking at Luis Torrens and Allen Cordoba, possibly keeping them on the Major League roster … everyone has a positive and everyone has a drawback,” said Green.

The positive is a crazy level of talent. The drawback is a serious lack of experience.

Torrens is a catcher. Cordoba is an infielder. The other guy is Miguel Diaz, a right-handed reliever. All have enough upside to keep them around for a while even though they are being asked to make a ridiculous leap in competition.

Cordoba was taken out of the Cardinals organization. He’s 21 years old and has never played a game above the Rookie Ball-level Appalachian League, where last year he hit .362 with more walks than strikeouts.

Torrens was one of the top prospects in the Yankees organization before shoulder issues set him back. But he’s still just 20 years old and got a clean bill of health after off-season surgery a year ago. He has only played 40 games of advanced A-ball.

Diaz is 21 years old and has never pitched above short-season A-ball with the Brewers organization but much like Luis Perdomo last year his stuff is too good to ignore. He’s only allowed three hits in 8.0 innings with the Padres during Cactus League games.

The Padres are seriously considering keeping all three guys.

“Those are real discussions going on right now and I think they’ll persist for the next couple of days because there’s a tradeoff with every one of them,” said Green.

If all three youngsters do stick they’ll have to stay on the big league roster for the duration of the season (like Perdomo) or offer them back to their original teams (like outfielder Jabari Blash, who ultimately ended up staying in the organization after a trade with the Mariners).

If that happens there are tough decisions to make. On the infield, who do you knock out to keep Cordoba? You know Wil Myers, Erick Aybar and Yangervis Solarte are on the team. That leaves Cory Spangenberg, Ryan Schimpf and Luis Sardinas and the Padres can only keep one.

Or maybe they can keep two if the team thinks Cordoba can handle the outfield, which he has done admirably during Spring Training. The outfield is going to have Hunter Renfroe, Travis Jankowski and Manuel Margot (as long as his knee is healthy) in it. Alex Dickerson won’t be ready for Opening Day. Might the Friars think Cordoba offers a better opportunity than Blash or Collin Cowgill?

That is a serious possibility and for a progressive-thinking manager like Green it offers a world of possibilities.

“We have the potential to use some of our pieces in unique fashions and up-down concepts that cover some of our inexperience on the bench. We’ve got a lot of things we like in a lot of guys.”

Yup. They definitely have some tough decisions to make.

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<![CDATA[Padres Roster Taking Shape]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 19:07:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/Quackenbush+Finish.JPG

The Padres continued trimming their Spring Training roster on Wednesday, shipping out five more players.

Right-handed pitcher Kevin Quackenbush was optioned to the minor league side while right-hander Carlos Fisher, infielders Brett Wallace and Jamie Romak and catcher Tony Cruz were all reassigned to minor league camp.

That leaves 37 guys left in Major League camp. Well, really it only leaves 33 players in the mix for a spot on the 25-man Opening Day roster because four pitchers … Colin Rea, Erik Johnson, Christian Friedrich and Robbie Erlin … are still listed on the Spring roster even though they are not going to be available due to injury.

So that means only seven guys will have to get that call saying they’re not going to be members of the San Diego Padres big league club come April 3 at Dodger Stadium. Most of them will come from the pitching staff because there are currently 19 pitchers left in camp and only 12 or 13 of them will be around.

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<![CDATA[San Diegan Gets Chance to Start With the Padres]]> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:17:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Trevor+Cahill+Padres+Spring+2017.JPG

At the start of Padres Spring Training we asked Bob Scanlan, Padres broadcaster and long-time friend of NBC 7 SportsWrap, to name a couple of guys who might be surprisingly strong contributors in 2017. The first name out of his mouth was a pitcher with San Diego ties.

“I think Trevor Cahill might be one of those guys,” said Scan. “He’s looked great. I’ve been watching his bullpens and live pitching sessions. He looks really solid. He could be sort of the Drew Pomeranz of this year for the Padres. A guy who was struggling but came on and all of a sudden became a big factor in the starting rotation. I think Cahill can be that guy.”

Pomeranz was a starter who became a reliever who earned another starting job in San Diego, went to the All-Start Game … and was traded to Boston for Anderson Espinoza, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.

The comparison with Cahill is spot-on. Trevor was a starter who last year moved to the bullpen full-time with the World Series champion Chicago Cubs. Now the Vista native is trying to start again with his home town team, a possibility that was as important to him as coming back to San Diego.

“I heard nothing but good things about the staff and just thought it was a good opportunity,” said Cahill. “I get a chance to go back home and play in front of the family. I just want a chance to go out there and show what I can do.”

With a week left until Opening Day, Cahill has been even better than Pomeranz was last year. He leads the Padres in innings pitched and strikeouts and opponents are only hitting .155 against him in the notoriously offense-friendly Cactus League.

His last two starts have been fantastic. How about these combined numbers against the Giants and Cubs:

-    10.0 Innings pitched
-    3 Hits
-    1 Earned run
-    15 Strikeouts

Cahill was an All-Star with Oakland in 2010 but has never been able to replicate that success. Going to the bullpen with the Cubs changed his approach to pitching in general.

“It feels like as a starter you have to pace yourself. Out of the ‘pen you’re able to come in and throw everything as hard as you can and go straight to the breaking stuff and off-speed stuff,” said Cahill.

The tactic worked for him in later innings in Chicago so he plans on taking it to the mound in the first inning in San Diego instead of worrying about setting up hitters for later at-bats.

“Nowadays with the bullpens as good as they are there’s not as much emphasis on going deep. It’s like if you can put up five zeroes it’s better than seven innings with two runs almost. I’m going to go out there and get my, hopefully, 110 pitches and see how deep it takes me.”

If it works the new mindset has already put him back in the starting rotation and could even take him back to the All-Star Game.

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<![CDATA[A Conversation With Padres Hitting Coach Alan Zinter]]> Sun, 26 Mar 2017 14:08:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Alan+Zinter+Padres.JPG

Have a talented young hitter that needs a little instruction to reach his potential? There’s a guy you might want to talk to.

Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter is one of those people who just kind of have a knack for teaching kids how to hit. What is interesting about that is he’s not a guy who had a whole lot of success as a hitter himself.

“I’ve been fortunate to play a long time; to toil in the minor leagues a long time and go through a lot of frustrations as a hitter,” said Zinter. “That’s prepared me for what I do now. I love teaching. I love to break it down and walk through the fire with a player throughout his career.”

In 19 seasons of professional baseball Zinter played 67 games in the Major Leagues and 1,882 games in the minor leagues and Japan. His professional playing career ended after one last hurrah with the Somerset Patriots of the in the Independent Atlantic League in 2007. He immediately got a job as a minor league hitting coach in the Diamondbacks organization where he started to show an innate ability to show other guys how to put the bat on the ball.

In the Arizona system he developed All-Star 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Indians caught wind of Zinter so they made him their minor league hitting coordinator and he started molding All-Star 2nd baseman Francisco Lindor in to an offensive threat. Then the Astros brought Zinter back to The Show as an assistant hitting instructor where he helped SS Carlos Correa become an MVP candidate.

When the Padres hired Andy Green to be their manager before the 2016 season they knew they were soon going to dive headfirst in to a rebuild. That means lots of young players that need instruction. And that means they needed a guy with a track record of helping talented players realize their potential.

So they brought Zinter over from Houston. In his first season he drew rave reviews from established stars like 1st baseman Wil Myers, who went to his first All-Star Game, and young players like catcher Austin Hedges, who had the best offensive season of his life working with Zinter, who does not take a “one size fits all” approach to instructing his players.

“I’m not a cookie cutter coach,” said Zinter. “What do they do best? I want to get them to understand that and get them to understand their mechanics and how to get them to repeat those mechanics. That’s where consistency lies. Obviously there are some points in hitting you want to get to. We stress those and teach those but everybody gets to those points differently and it’s OK. If you stand on your head and can get to the launch position on time I’m fine with that.”

Now he gets to try and mold top prospects like Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Jorge Ona; guys with huge ceilings because of their natural ability. With the inexperienced Padres, Zinter has a whole lot of work to do … and he likes it like that.

“It’s not normal to be able to get such young players at this (MLB) level,” said Zinter. “So much talent and they bring a lot to the table so I’m just looking to learn them and watch what they do; make sure they’re doing good routines. It’s very important to have an open mind and a growth mind set.”

Growth is a good word for the Padres, who believe they’ve planted the seeds of a winning franchise. It’s up to guys like Zinter to nurture them.

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<![CDATA[Padres Release FanFest Details]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:29:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Padres+Fans+Enter+Petco+Park.JPG

Details for 2017 Padres FanFest are out. This year the annual event takes place on Saturday, April 1 at Petco Park.

The traditional treats like autograph sessions with Padres players, coaches, broadcasters and alumni will be available again this year. So will the annual Garage Sale where fans can buy hard-to-find Padres items like game-used jerseys, batting helmets and 2016 All-Star Game memorabilia. Proceeds go to the Padres Foundation.

There will also be a Q&A session with Padres players, coaches, executives and broadcasters beginning at 11:00 a.m. on the Park at the Park stage and fans will also be able to tour the recently opened Padres Hall of Fame located on K Street behind the left field seating area.

The Park at the Park will have a series of KidsFest activities and Padres players will hold a special clinic at the whiffle ball field. Starting at 1:00 p.m. fans can watch the team take batting practice with a twist. Some BP balls will have unique marks on them and can be turned in for a special prize. The outfield grandstand seats will be open for the BP session, after which kids will have the opportunity to run the bases on the field.

As always admission to the event is free but THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! You have to pre-register. So if you want to attend you have to visit www.padres.com/fanfest, where you can secure up to eight tickets.

Gates open at 10:00 a.m. for the general public with entrance points through the Home Plate, East Village and Gaslamp gates. Free parking is available in Padres-owned lots around the ballpark on a first-come, first served basis. Padres Members (who can enter the event at an hour earlier at 9:00 a.m.) will be able to pre-register for a complimentary parking pass through their online account.

Standard Petco Park security and screening procedures will be in place for Padres FanFest. Re-entry will be permitted for FanFest events, but fans who exit will be screened again upon re-entry into the ballpark.

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<![CDATA[Padres Trim Roster]]> Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:33:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/Paul+Clemens+2017+Spring+Training.JPG

The Padres got closer to their 25-man Opening Day roster with a series of moves on Monday.

The main news is the release of righty-handed pitcher Paul Clemens, who started their first Cactus League game and was in the mix to win a spot in the starting rotation. He allowed three home runs in four appearances (two starts) and had more walks than strikeouts during Spring Training.

The Padres also optioned infielder Carlos Asuaje and right-handed pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Zach Lee to minor league camp. They also reassigned right-handers Logan Bawcom and Andre Rienzo, catchers Rocky Gale and Jake McGee, outfielder Rafael Ortega and infielder Christian Villanueva to minor league camp.

The difference in terminology is the guys on the 40-man roster are optioned; the guys who are not protected are reassigned. The Padres now have 42 players left in Major League camp.

The moves bring a couple of position battles into better focus. This spring 11 different pitchers have started games for the Padres, including Clemens, Jenkins, Lee and Walker Lockett, who was sent to Triple-A El Paso over the weekend. That leaves just seven guys in camp who are contending for the starting rotation (in no particular order):

Trevor Cahill, RHP
Jered Weaver, RHP
Luis Perdomo, RHP
Clayton Richard, LHP
Jarred Cosart, RHP
Christian Friedrich, LHP
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP

Friedrich, who reported arm soreness and did not throw a scheduled bullpen on Sunday, is looking like a candidate to end up in the Padres bullpen to start the season. Chacin is just getting back to the team after his stretch with Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Asuaje has made the most appearances at 2nd base during Cactus League play but his option likely means it’s down to Cory Spangenberg and Ryan Schimpf to fight it out for the starting job. Schimpf has been dealing with an oblique injury so Spangenberg likely has the inside track on cracking the Opening Day lineup.

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<![CDATA[Padres Catcher Loses to Win]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 17:52:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/Hector+Sanchez+Padres+2016.JPG

Austin Hedges is the Padres starting catcher. That is not open to discussion. The backup job, however, is a bit of an interesting discussion.

In 2016 the Friars signed Hector Sanchez off waivers from the White Sox when they needed a little catching depth behind Derek Norris and Christian Bethancourt. It turned out to be a nice move.

Sanchez hit .265 in 28 games with the Padres. His production and ability to handle the pitching staff are big reasons the team has been trying Bethancourt as a relief pitcher during Spring Training. But when the 27-year-old catcher arrived at Spring Training this year he was not the same guy they thought they were getting.

He was a whole lot smaller. Sanchez completely redesigned his body with an off-season workout and diet plan.

“The most important thing was to eat healthy,” said Sanchez, who is batting .300 with a pair of home runs in Cactus League play. “After the season last year I was overweight. I put my mind to working hard and losing some weight and I’m really happy with that.”

Sanchez didn’t just lose a little weight. He lost 31 pounds and shed 14% body fat.

“I have to be honest, that was not easy,” said the svelte Sanchez. “Especially when you play winter ball a lot of guys around you are eating fried food and you’re in there trying to do the best you can. That was not easy but I’m really proud of what I did.”

Losing all that weight was good for the Venezuela native mentally and even better for him physically.

“I feel great. I feel more strong and healthy. I’m more flexible when I’m blocking balls and running; it’s way different. I really feel good right now.”

For a position as physically grueling as catcher it is extremely important to keep the body in good shape. Although no backstop ever starts all 162 games Sanchez is preparing himself as if that is going to be the case.

“You have to be light, especially for your knee. You have to squat a lot so you have to be healthy because if you’re overweight it’s impossible to catch 162 games. It’s more important to be in shape when you’re a catcher.”

With Hedges and Sanchez the Padres should be in good shape behind the plate.

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<![CDATA[Padres Make Roster Moves]]> Mon, 06 Mar 2017 17:59:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Cesar+Vargas+2017+Spring.JPG

The Padres pruned their pitching staff a bit on Monday.

Cesar Vargas was optioned to Triple-A El Paso while Dinelson Lamet, Aroni Nina and Michael Kelly were reassigned to Minor League camp. The Friars now have 64 players in Major League camp.

Vargas pitched well in his MLB debut in 2016 until May 28, his 7th start, which was cut short after 1.2 ineffective innings. Vargas missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain that, luckily, did not require a Tommy John surgery.

The 25-year-old made two appearances in Cactus League games before being sent down to build up his innings. If he stays healthy the 25-year-old righty with the wicked cut fastball will likely be one of the first players called up if anyone in the Major League rotation gets hurt (or traded).

Of the other players leaving big league camp Lamet was the only one with a shot at making the Opening Day roster this year.

The Padres lost another guy who is expected to be in the starting rotation this year, but not for too long. Jhoulys Chacin left to join the Venezuelan team that will be competing in the World Baseball Classic. On Sunday he threw 3.0 innings and gave up a pair of solo home runs in San Diego’s 8-2 loss to the Indians.

Chacin will be joined by 3rd baseman Yangervis Solarte and relief pitcher Jose Castillo on the Venezuela roster. The Padres are also loaning out infielder Luis Urias and RHP Carlos Fisher (Mexico), 1st baseman Josh Naylor and infielder Jamie Romak (Canada), and RHP Bryan Rodriguez (Dominican Republic).

The second round of the WBC will be held at Petco Park from March 14-19 and several of these players might end up playing there. Much like soccer’s World Cup the WBC is broken in to multiple pools with four teams in each pool. The top two teams from Pool C and Pool D will play a round robin format in San Diego to determine who goes to the semi-finals. Those pools look like this:

Pool C - Miami, FL

Dominican Republic
USA
Colombia
Canada

Pool D - Jalisco, Mexico

Mexico
Puerto Rico
Venezuela
Italy

So it’s possible every single one of the Padres could be coming to Petco this year.

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<![CDATA[Padres Manager Is Also A Book Worm]]> Sun, 05 Mar 2017 17:55:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Andy+Green+Blue+Camo.JPG

Padres Manager Andy Green is one of the most progressive-thinking skippers in Major League Baseball. There are very few ideas or quirks or tweaks that he will not at least entertain a conversation on because he wants to find ways to win baseball games.

Green’s mind is always churning on something and he is more than happy to share it with pretty much anyone who takes the time to ask.

“Yeah he’s got a ton of good advice,” said outfielder Travis Jankowski. “He’s got a ton of books to read. Just talking to him; that guy is as mentally tough as they come.”

The books mention is interesting because it brings to mind former NBA coach Phil Jackson who famously gave his players books to read. But unlike Jackson, who chose the tomes that fueled the titles, Green finds out what the players are interested in and makes suggestions from there.

“I kind of try to meet a guy where he is and what I think he can digest,” said Green. “There’s a wide range of things I think are impactful to guys, different authors for different guys.”

Green is so encouraged to see his players asking about books that they don’t have to buy a single one of them.

“He says they’re on him,” said Jankowski. “He doesn’t have a whole stash of them but he says whatever you guys want, if it’s going to strengthen your mind and get you right for the season he’ll buy it for us.”

“I tell them I’ll buy them any book they want at any time,” said Green. “It’s not class in there but it’s, let’s activate the minds and figure out how to handle adversity and what’s expected of a professional baseball player.”

You’ll hear Green talk a lot about activating the mind. While many people today bemoan the slow pace of play in baseball (and rightfully so, they need to speed it up) they often misinterpret that as a lack of excitement. Before any pitch there are countless calculations that must be made by every player on the field.

What pitch is coming? What’s the count? Who’s on base? How many outs are there? What inning are we in? Where does the manager have me positioned? Where are my teammates positioned? Who’s pitching? Who’s hitting? What’s the scouting report on the opponent?

That’s not even all of it and it changes pitch-to-pitch throughout the course of a game. Green believes an engaged mind, especially in the times between the ball being put in play, is absolutely critical to avoiding mental errors.

“If they’re learning, if their minds are active, they’re going to learn on the baseball field. If their minds are shut off and it’s Twitter and video games all day their minds are going to be shut off on the baseball field. It’s really simple. It’s the same way with my kids. If they watch TV all day they’re not going to make smart decisions. With these guys out here, if you turn their minds on you open them up to new ideas and new theories, new ways to handle adversity, new ways to respond to difficult circumstances, they do better on the baseball field.”

There is no go-to author or subject matter. Heck there’s not even a favorite genre. Green can dip in to pretty much any kind of writing to find something that fits what his players are looking for.

“I recommend a few fiction things. Guys who want to communicate better, I’ve got a couple of books up that lane, too, for guys that want to be more impactful leaders.”

And in case you’re curious, yes … when it comes to keeping the mind engaged through reading Green practices what he preaches.

“I’m always reading. Actually Spring Training is the one time I’m not reading because the days are so extraordinarily wrong but outside of spring I’ll read all year long.”

He’s not just talking about scouting reports, either.

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<![CDATA[San Diego Padres Photo Day 2017]]> Mon, 03 Apr 2017 07:36:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Padres_Sanchez_GettyImages-642969216.jpg Images of the San Diego Padres from their annual photo day in Peoria, Arizona on Feb. 19, 2017.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How Padres' Hedges Learned to Hit]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 15:32:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/Austin+Hedges+Mask.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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<![CDATA[Padres Reliever Explains Funky Delivery]]> Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:21:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Capps+Delivery+GIF.gif

Carter Capps can be a problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Weaver Ready to "Prove A Lot of People Wrong"]]> Sat, 25 Feb 2017 14:59:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/Weaver+Padres.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Myers Takes on Leadership Role for Padres]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:04:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/Wil+Myers+Swing+Finish.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Padres Manager Has New Rules Ideas]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:43:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AndyGreenMeme.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Attitude at Padres Spring Training]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:31:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/2017+Preller+at+Spring+Training.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So does that lead to camaraderie … or competition?

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

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

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<![CDATA[Padres Try A Strange New Experiment]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:39:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Christian+Bethancourt+Pitching+2016.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Padres Add Another Veteran Starter]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 16:19:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/188*120/Jered+Weaver+Angels+Good-Bye.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Latest Padres Rebuild Starts This Week]]> Sun, 12 Feb 2017 18:45:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/183*120/Hunter+Renfroe+HR.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Padres Finalize Non-Roster Invites]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 18:24:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/Andy+Green+Peoria+Office.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Left-Handed Pitchers (2)
Kyle McGrath
Brad Wieck

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

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

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

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