Optimism abounds in Peoria, Arizona as the San Diego Padres took the field Tuesday for their first full squad workout of spring training.
"It's day one," said Padres general partner Peter Seidler. "This is our decade. We've talked about it, and we're not shying away from it."
Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler echoed Seidler's optimistic outlook when asked about expectations for the 2020 season.
"I'd like to see us above .500," Fowler said. "We think we have the team to get us there. We're focused on winning this year, and I think we have a lot of pieces in place. I think we're going to be a good team, and we look forward to winning a lot of ballgames."
If the Padres back up their owners and end up "winning a lot of ballgames," that would be a break from the Padres past. San Diego has had nine straight losing seasons and at least 90 losses in the each of the last four seasons.
Count Padres third baseman Manny Machado among those who also think the team's losing ways are a thing of the past.
"With the ball club we have here, we are confident we can surprise a lot of people," last winter's superstar arrival said.
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After signing a 10 year $300 million free agent contract last off season, Machado had a disappointing first season in San Diego. He hit a career-low .256 with 32 home runs, 85 RBI and a career-high 128 strikeouts.
When asked about what he learned from last season, Machado was matter of fact saying, "Last season is in the past, just gotta learn from mistakes I made. This off season, I got back to business, back to basics. I don't need to show anybody, they are still afraid of me, whether I'm hitting .100 or hitting .500."
Shortly after that verbal beauty, Machado followed up with this gem when asked about his physical shape.
"I'm swole as hell, it's called swole."
First year Padres manager Jayce Tingler certainly noticed Machado's off season work.
"He is one of the most respected players in the game, real voices come from action, for him to back it up with his work in the off season and to come in the way he has, I think that's a very good message."
Fowler said the organization as a whole is very pleased with how Machado conducted himself since last season ended.
“We signed Manny to a very large contract. We did it because we see Manny as one of the leaders of the team. He realizes that he didn't have the year that either he or we wanted, and I think he recommitted himself to making sure that 2020 is a better year for him and for the Padres," Fowler said.
The Padres first game of spring training is Feb. 22 against the Seattle Mariners. The Padres regular season opener is March 26 against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. So, the team is still a weeks away from playing games that matter, but so far the Padres are talking a good game. Soon we'll see if they can play a good game, and then and only then will we know if Padre pessimism is truly a thing of the past.
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