SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Yonder Alonso #23 is congratulated by teammates of the San Diego Padres after hitting a game winning single in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park on September 16, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
Opening Day is one week from Monday.
In March, most clubs are bouncing on their toes in anticipation with whispers of “this is our year,” filling the streets. Jerseys are flying off the shelf in anticipation for the big day; the day when their team will start it’s 2013 road to the World Series.
But we’re in San Diego, where the echoes of “there’s always next year,” seem to already be haunting the sunny sidewalks.
The Padres finished 2012 much better than they started, and many hoped that would carry over into spring training and skipper Bud Black would finally corral all his young talent and mesh it perfectly with the veterans’ long-standing excellence and everyone would be down that road with a pennant at the end.
But spring training didn’t go exactly as planned.
First, Chase Headley, widely accepted as the team’s best player, broke his thumb sliding into second several weeks ago. Now the third baseman will miss at least the first two weeks of the regular season, possibly the first month.
And, Logan Forsythe, who was supposed to step up and lessen the blow of Headley’s absence, has planter fasciitis in his right foot. As San Diego fans saw with beloved tight end Antonio Gates, that injury provides an unpredictable healing time line.
And finally, the pitching rotation is still not set. And top minor-league prospect right-hander Casey Kelly, who might’ve provided some stability, or at least some hope, has to have Tommy John surgery. There goes his 2013 season.
But, Padres’ fans, before you sink into the dismal and oh-so-easy rut of hoping for next year, here are five reasons to look forward to the 2013 season.
1. The Padres still have some heavy bats. Center fielder Cameron Maybin, catcher Nick Hundley, and outfielder Kyle Blanks have proven to us in February and March they didn’t’ take the winter months off. Even without Headley, these veterans have the ability to score runs and provide an example for the youngsters.
2. Left fielder Carlos Quentin could still start on Opening Day. Sure, he also could be on DL, but this is the hopeful section, so here, he’s taking the field on April 1.
3. If the Padres can survive April (and maybe part of May) without digging themselves into too deep of a hole, they could get Headley, catcher Yasmani Grandal, and left-hander Cory Leubke back on the field. Headley’s broken thumb should be better by the end of April at the latest, Grandal’s suspension will be up in late May and Leubke told Padres.com he would be upset if he wasn’t pitching by about June.
4. TripAdvisor just rated Petco Park as one of the country’s top baseball parks. The travel site gave Petco, in all its downtown and seaside glory, the No. 7 spot among major league parks.
5. In case the view and the baseball being played on the field won’t be enough incentive to make a trip to Petco, a Ballast Point Beer Garden will now take up the entire patio behind the left field scoreboard, according to President Tom Garfinkel’s tweets. So if all the dismal predictions and echoes in the street are true, there’s another way to get you through the season.
There you have it; are you excited now?