Padres Editorial: Impressions of the New Padres Game One


MLB Network had the San Diego Padres’ first spring training game on at 9:00 Wednesday night. I had managed to avoid almost all news about the game in preparation for watching our brand new Padres take the field against an opponent for the first time.

The good news is, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton were the corner outfielders, with Upton in left and Kemp in right. We got our first view of these All-Stars playing in their Padres blues.

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The bad news was, manager Bud Black chose to use the first game to run out a lot of pitchers who don’t stand much chance of making the team, and kept newcomers Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, and a few others, on the bench.

So it wasn’t exactly the opening day lineup. But it’s Spring Training, and it’s early. We don’t get to see the good lineup for a few more weeks.

Jason Lane took the bump for the Padres to start the first of their 193 games in 2015 (plus hopefully at least 11 more in the postseason). Lane is a nice story – converted outfielder, still trying to make it back to the show as  a pitcher, toiling away in minor league games at the age of 38.

A good story indeed. But the fact is, he’s not really a major league quality pitcher. He’s close, and has been for a while. But this start was likely a big “attaboy” for the years of effort this man of nearly 40 has put in over the years. It wasn’t a chance to see if he can make the opening day roster. Lane went two innings and gave up four hits, including a very long home run to Mariners slugging prospect D.J. Peterson.

Who’s the Padres’ leadoff hitter? I think Friars On Base’s own Keegan Tatum has argued for everyone except Joaquin Benoit. But Cameron Maybin, who is exhibiting exactly the attitude you want to see from a guy whose job has basically been taken away from him, got the nod from Black, and rewarded the skipper with a single and a stolen base to lead off the game. As we know, Maybin is a better outfielder than Upton, Myers, and Kemp, and is one of the few Padres with enough speed to make a difference at the leadoff position, so a strong Spring will give the Padres some additional options come opening day.

The starting lineup also included Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Clint Barmes, Yangervis Solarte, Wil Nieves, and Carlos Quentin as the DH.

Alonso and Gyorko seemed to have retained some habits from last year, combining to go 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.

In fact, the Padres offense looked pretty anemic for the first half of the game, not collecting another hit after Maybin’s game opener until Solarte singled with two outs in the fifth. With all the offseason moves the team made, seeing them go into the fifth inning with only a single knock was pretty frustrating.

Solarte also roped a ball later in the game, but was thrown out trying to stretch a two-out double into a triple. I expect that Buddy reminded him after the game not to make the third out at third base. I know it’s Spring Training, but that kind of mental error will cost the Padres runs. Not good.

Quentin took an 0-for-3. The Pads are looking for a strong Spring from the outfielder for two reasons: one, when he hits, he hits the ball hard, and two, it’s the only way they’re going to be able to trade him. Quentin hitting under .200 this Spring is going to make him an expensive liability this year.

Upton hit a ball to dead center that went over the yellow line they painted on the batter’s eye this season, for his first home run as a Padre. It came in his third and final AB.

Other impressions?  Tim Federowicz can crush the ball. He hit home run length foul balls to both left and right field. Big-league power to all fields from the young catcher. I don’t think anyone’s going to miss Yasmani Grandal after seeing this guy hit.

Tommy Medica looked good, going 2-for-2 with a ribbie and a stolen base. Alonso needs to watch his back.

The Friars stole a total of five bases. In addition to Medica and Maybin, Cory Spangenberg, Rico Noel, and Trea Turner swiped bags in the contest. Good to see from a team that lacks a true leadoff hitter.

The pitching? After Lane, we saw Aaron Northcraft, Justin Hancock, Jay Jackson, Chris Rearick, and Marcos Mateo, all non-roster invitees. The only pitchers from the roster were Leonel Campos, Frank Garces, and Tayron Guerrero. There’s a chance that not one of those guys will be with the team when the regular season opens, although Garces has a shot as a lefty reliever, and he struck out three of the four batters he faced.

And Kemp? Well, he didn’t do much. Whiffed in his first at-bat. Grounded to short next time, and finished by grounding into a double play. But I expect he’ll get his first hit soon. I’m not too worried about him.

Next televised game will be Saturday’s against the Giants, again on delay on MLBN. Sunday’s contest against the Rockies will be on Fox Sports San Diego. Start your planning now, and get your own early impressions of the new Padres. That’s what Spring Training is for.

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