San Diego Padres: Spring Training Week One Recap
By Cheri Bell
In an exciting first full week of Cactus League play for the San Diego Padres, there are lot of stories to recap. Cheri Bell breaks everything down, from the good to the bad.
The first week of spring training for the San Diego Padres brought a mixed bag and a 3-4 record. It was in inauspicious start as the Pads lost the first two games 13-3 and 13-2 versus their spring rivals, the Seattle Mariners.
Game three was a bit better but another loss to the Angels. Then the boys began to flex their muscles, knocking the ball around the park in a 9-5 victory versus the Giants on the last day of February.
March began with a split of the split games with Oakland and Colorado and a tidy win over Colorado the next day. The week finished with two close ones against the White Sox (3-1) and the Diamondbacks (6-5).
Performances of note included the spring debut of catcher/outfielder/reliever Christian Bethancourt. Andy Green has been very open in his interviews regarding the Padres desire to think outside the box this spring. Bethancourt is the prime example of that thinking.
San Diego Padres
If the Padres can successfully fill a reliever role, a 5th outfielder and a back up catcher role with one person (not to mention a pinch hitter off the bench) then the flexibility that gives them coming out of spring training can not be overstated. Especially for a team that has openly stated a desire to hold on to the Rule V picks in camp this spring.
Bethancourt’s two appearances totaled 2 IP surrendering no hits, a BB and no strikeouts, but also not much solid contact made. This experiment is fascinating to watch and will be a focus of these weekly spring training updates.
Both Austin Hedges and Wil Myers saw lots of action this first week. Hedges appeared in 5 games and amassed three 2B with 1 RBI. He made lots of solid contact and continues to look good receiving behind the plate.
Myers played in 6 of the 7 games with a HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB and a double of his own. Wil seems to be embracing his role as leader of the team and leading by example has been a strong one at this point.
Then we come to Jabari Blash.
Waived by the Padres during the offseason, Blash went unclaimed and was outrighted to El Paso with a spring training invite. He has only hit 3 HR with 10 RBI and 4 BB in his 7 games played. He has also scored 6 runs with an OBP of .563 and a slugging of 1.273. Yes, of course, small sample size and we all remember Jabari killing the ball last spring only to fail miserably in his major league debut with 34 strikeouts in 71 at bats.
Related Story: Where Does Blash Fit it in the Outfield?
Padres MLB.com beat writer AJ Cassavell interviewed Blash and Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter for his March 3 post on the web site.
“He brings so much to the table,” Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter said. “He just wasn’t putting himself in the most efficient positions on time. He brings so much power, great plate discipline. But as a whole, we just didn’t feel he was doing it consistently enough.”
Zinter went on to say that Blash approached him regarding putting a timing mechanism in his swing. They worked on a toe tap that changed his mechanics and he then went 5 for 5 with those 3 HR after that.
“I’m getting ready earlier, and it puts me in a better hitting position,” Blash said. “… It’s something that’s still a little uncomfortable because it’s new. But it felt great, and it’s something that I’m going to keep working on.”
If this works out the Padres appear to have a great problem. Too many outfielders for the spots available on the roster. The good news is everyone still has options and Manuel Margot could start the season in Triple A for a month and delay his service clock by a year.
On the pitching side things are also looking decent. The lopsided losses of the first two days mostly represented poor outings by minor league pitchers not slated for the 25 man roster.
If you assume Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver have spots locked up in the rotation that leaves Jarred Cosart, Luis Perdomo, Trevor Cahill and Christian Frederich as the most likely candidates to fight for those last two spots. Paul Clemens could be on that list but I doubt his mental toughness and don’t see him as a likely contender.
Perdomo (2 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts) looked good in his first spring outing. Cahill (2 IP, 1 BB, 3 strikeouts) also looked solid to begin the spring.
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As for the relievers, Phil Maton is getting a good look from the Padres. He has pitched in 3 games/3 IP with 1 hit, 1 BB and 3 SO. I would not be surprised to find him among the 25 breaking camp with the team.
Craig Stammen has also pitched in 3 games/3 IP with 1 hit and 3 SO. Jose Torres, a late arriver last season, has 3 games/ 3 IP with 1 hit, 1 BB and 5 SO for this early spring.
All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, naturally. But it should be noted that there are quality ballplayers trying out for opportunities to make this team and I am excited about watching to see who makes it out of camp.
Next: How WBC Will Impact the Padres
The lack of experience with this group of young players has stimulated a lot of discussion among the national media- opining that the Padres will most likely lose a 100 games or more this season.
That may happen, but it won’t be from lack of talent.