Jun 20, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher celebrates with catcherAustin Hedges
(18) after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-1 at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Training Goes a Long Way
While the above headline may seem like an obvious statement, I think you would be surprised at how many under-estimate what training for a race or planning a depth on a team can do for you. In the off-season as the Padres stockpiled outfielders, catchers, and pitchers (shortstop!…knew we forgot something…) some people wondered why the Padres needed it. After all, why take another chance on Josh Johnson when had already signed up Brandon Morrow and traded for James Shields and Odrisamer Despaigne pushed to the bullpen. Who needs Melvin Upton when we have Will Venable, Abraham Almonte and Rymer Liriano as backup outfielders. Now, early on we understand why. The starting rotation has needed Despaigne to step in with more Morrow injuries and it is a little uncertain just who would step in to the next open rotation spot.
When it came to the marathon training, I learned that indeed it simply takes a long time! Even if you are running a 9 minute mile, it will take you about an hour just for a 6 mile run. For marathon training, you really want to be doing that a few times a week and then a “long run” – meaning 10 or more miles – on the weekend. There goes another 2 hours at least! I had done several half marathons in the past and even did one that fit in well with my training in March. I managed to pull it in at just about 2 hours, a healthy 9:20 pace. Up next was a 19 mile trail race in April before the May marathon. Trail racing is typically much more challenging because not only are you running for a long time, you have to compete with protruding branches, roots, rocks, and in this case lava rock as well. The course was beautiful along the McKenzie River but still took me 4 hours to complete. After that race, I certainly felt spent from it all, though relaxing in the Hot Springs and friends cheering me on felt good. Also for some reason beer always takes amazing after a long race. I thought that running 4 hours straight was pretty good, and felt confident about the marathon.
The Padres did their preparation too, by researching who they wanted for their team and building up that system. It feels a little bit like “buying” their training, but at the same time by drafting in previous years and having the players to trade for veterans like Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel we will count that. Just how the team planned for injuries or really thought out how the defense would actually work though is still open for debate. After all, we knew that shortstop would be an issue after not signing last year’s shortstop Everth Cabrera, yet Preller traded 2014 Padres 1st round draft pick – SS Trea Turner – and picked up Clint Barmes to back up Alexi Amarista. So far they are combining to hit .239 with 4 HR. Ironically Cabrera was just released by the Orioles last weekend.
So while I had run for four hours, and I had run 19 miles of 26.2, I really hadn’t gotten all the way there yet. Sometimes as much as you train nothing really compares to the real thing. You can run numbers on paper and project what you think it will be like, but nothing substitutes for that race day energy and feeling. Would it be enough?
In the same way, the Padres assembled an All-Star cast for this 2015 season, with the hammer being trading for Craig Kimbrel and ridding themselves of dead weight Carlos Quentin and injury-riddled Cameron Maybin right before Opening Day. On paper the Padres were adding a LOT of extra home runs and hits to their team while also adding James Shields to what was already viewed as a strong rotation. Really good things – but enough to carry them the whole way?
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