Unlike past seasons, the San Diego Padres have some quality teammates in the clubhouse, a major positive for a club still hoping for long awaited success.
In interview after interview, the young core of Padre players has exuded both relief and excitement about the atmosphere in the clubhouse, as well as the opportunities they finally have to display their talents at the major league level.
While the whole issue of how much team chemistry even matters can be (and has been) debated endlessly, baseball players do spend an inordinate amount of time with their teammates. If the team vibe leans toward “25 players, 25 cabs,” Peter Gammons’ description of the Red Sox when he covered the team for the Boston Globe, the clubhouse can’t be a real comfy hangout.
The departure of veterans like Matt Kemp (who admitted in an essay for The Players’ Tribune that he had “gained a reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate”) and Derek Norris has helped to change the atmosphere. Also, several of the young players on the roster shared time together in the minor leagues at some level.
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With the Padres facing a 7:30 start time on a Monday night in Atlanta, followed by a flight across the country and another night game, Richard and fellow pitcher Jered Weaver (also known for his leadership abilities with the Angels’ pitching staff), bought everyone pajamas for the trip home.
Fans have reacted positively to the obvious change in attitude. Regardless of the outcome of the last game or the team’s record, fans sense the change in vibe and to welcome it.