Mar 9, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Derek Norris (3) at bat in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs during a spring training baseball game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
1. Jedd Gyorko
Gyorko continues to strike out at a similar rate to last year. He leads the team with 11 strikeouts in 27 at bats and has a .222 average. If he continues at this trend, he may find himself watching Yangervis Solarte or even possibly Hector Olivera playing second base this summer. If he continues to hit like he did last year, he will be riding the pine – unless the Padres don’t want to put $35 million on the bench. Gyorko needs to show considerable improvement in the next month.
2. Derek Norris
I know there are more important things for a catcher to do than hit .300 with 25 home runs. He has to manage a pitching staff and build chemistry with his starters. The catcher is the most important position on the field (in my opinion) and he isn’t expected to be the best hitter. But, come on…an .091 average? He is two for 22 with zero RBIs and seven strikeouts. I don’t expect him to be a premier hitter but a .250 hitter at least would be nice. Of course, I have preached to not look into spring numbers too much, so I will give him some breathing room and wait until April to see what he does when it counts. Hopefully better than two hits in eight games.
3. Ian Kennedy
I am not as worried about Kennedy’s spring as I am about Norris’. Pitching usually takes a little while longer to get going, but a 9.45 ERA through 6 2/3 innings still does not look good. He has allowed four home runs, which is the highest on the team by a large margin. He still has half a spring to shave down that ERA. I am not too worried about it, but it still would be nice to see all four of the known starters performing well.
4. Patience at the plate
Spring Training is for working out the holes in your swing and timing. Although the Padres are swinging well and squaring the ball up more often than in recent years, the walk and strikeout rates are still not where they should be. The Friars have struck out the fifth most in the league with 127 and are towards the bottom in walks drawn with 41. We want that ratio to even out as the season goes on. The more pitches a batter makes a pitcher throw, the more likely the pitcher are to make a mistake and pay for it. The Padres need to improve on working the count and getting optimal hitting counts like 2-0 and 3-1. That will come with time, hopefully.