Padres News: In Peavy Return, Sees Familiar Face At Home Plate


Baseball has a funny way of coming back around full circle. That was never more apparent than the way things turned out Sunday for former Padres pitcher Jake Peavy and backup catcher Wil Nieves.

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As reported by Tim Powers of, on July 21st, 2002 Wil Nieves made his first major league start at catcher. The starting pitcher that day was Jake Peavy, now pitching for the Giants and returning to San Diego for the first time since being traded away in 2009. Peavy made 17 starts that year en route to a 6-7 record and 4.52 ERA. Nieves on the other hand would be playing his only season in San Diego, only collecting 13 hits in 72 at-bats before heading back to AAA for the following two seasons. Since then, he has stayed on with a variety of teams as a backup catcher.

This spring, he was signed as an insurance policy after A.J. Preller traded away both major league catchers from 2014 Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera. When presumed Derek Norris backup Tim Federowicz  went down to injury, Nieves won the backup job among several other contenders. Now the 37 year old came up with one of his greatest moments as he hit a grand slam off of Peavy to help the Padres win the game 6-4. Amazingly it was only his 10th career home run. It only takes one swing though to be remembered – think Francisco Cabrera in the 1992 NLCS. Nieves had this to say about his big hit:

“I was pretty excited. I know my No.1 job when catching is to call a good game, and anything I can do with the bat is a plus. Peavy made a mistake and I put a good swing on it, and thankfully it went out of the ballpark.”

As for Jake Peavy, he enjoyed success back in the National League after being traded from the Red Sox and now has collected World Series rings in two consecutive seasons. The veteran joins a staff that seemed to get a lot older over the winter except for World Series phenom Madison Bumgarner, with ailing Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, and Tim Lincecum trying to regain his Cy Young form against every team except the Padres. Many doubt this staff can take the Giants back to the playoffs, but the Giants have heard that before.

Baseball is full of great personal stories like this, and unlike last year when a good story might come along like this but the Padres would then be the ones that lost 6-4, this time it helped the Friars pull out a series victory against the Giants and give Wil Nieves a memory he will not soon forget.

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