San Diego Padres spring training is less than a month from getting underway, meaning that competitions are about to heat up.
For baseball fans, the next best words to “play ball” are “pitchers and catchers report”.
No one said it better than A. Bartlett Giamatti, who was commissioner of baseball for a very short time before his death in 1989.
"“[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”"
Baseball begins again for the San Diego Padres when pitchers and catchers arrive on February 14, with position players showing up three days later. Then on the 25th, the team plays its first exhibition game in Peoria against the Mariners who share the complex.
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Thus will begin the competition for spots on the 25-man roster. Who will make the starting rotation from the motley crew of pitchers A.J. Preller has assembled? Who will play second base? How many and which outfielders will make the cut? Will the three Rule-5 draft picks, Allen Cordoba (shortstop), Miguel Diaz (pitcher) and Luis Torrens (catcher), even survive the spring? (The latter three have to be on the big league roster all year or be sent back to the organization from which they were drafted.)
This will be Preller’s third spring training since he was hired. As is his wont, he is operating outside the box, especially with his goal of keeping Cordoba, Diaz and Torrens. All are young and have only played at the lower levels in the minor leagues.
With the stated goal of rebuilding the entire organization and in a year the Padres are predicted to lose much more than the team wins, that strategy actually makes sense.