Headley on extension: “I just don’t think it was ever the right time.”

You might have read a report Tuesday that, according to sources, the Padres made a run at signing third baseman Chase Headley to a contract extension over the winter, a proposed deal between $33-$39 million.

Obviously, no deal was ever struck, nor can we say for sure this was ever truly offered. Too many unknowns, too many people wishing to stay mum on the topic.

But Headley told me in a long interview at the end of Spring Training — you can read the story here — that there’s no hard feelings that his representation and the team couldn’t strike a deal.

“We have a good relationship with the front office, everything has been cordial. We both have an idea where the other is,” Headley said. “I think that it’s all about timing. With the ownership changes we’ve have had, I just don’t think it was ever the right time. It’s no one’s fault.”

There was, he said, sizable differences between what the team and what Headley were looking for in a long-term deal.

“I think there was some differences in both. There’s enough ground in between us to where it wasn’t going to work out right now. We understood what they were saying, and they understood what we were saying. We just couldn’t find that common ground,” he said.

I asked Headley — a homegrown player who has never played for another organization — if he thought he would/will be a Padre for the rest of his playing career.

“You understand that it’s part of the game and guys come and go. In a perfect world, you’d like to keep more guys than we have since I’ve been here,” Headley said. “And I think that’s the direction it’s going [in San Diego]. I think that’s what they want to create moving forward, more continuity. But it [change] happens when you have a bunch of philosophy changes and changes in ownership.”

So what happens now?

– Do the Padres trade Headley before the non-waiver deadline (July 31)?

– Do they hope he rebounds and then make him a qualifying offer after the season with the thought he’ll test free agency, sign elsewhere and they can add an additional draft pick?

– Do they make a run at him in terms of a deal following the season?

Headley said that at some point, someone is going to take that qualifying offer, which could be north of $15 million. To date, no one has taken the QO. Headley, for one, doesn’t believe draft pick compensation should be tied to the QO.

“We weighed that [in talking with the Padres] and it’s not a great system for the player,” Headley said. “You have to play six full seasons just to get to free agency. The average Major League career is not six years long. When you get to that point in your career, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to have this one shot at free agency affected by that [qualifying offer]. At some point, someone is going to take one of those.

“It’s not a bad way to go. That’s a pretty big number for one year.”

– Corey Brock

Jedd Gyorko: Before the contract …

By now, you’re probably well aware of the $35 million contract extension the Padres have given to second baseman Jedd Gyorko. If not, here’s my story from Monday.

In case you don’t want to read it, I’ll save you the trouble: $35 million, as it turns out, can and will buy a lot of diapers (Gyorko’s wife is expecting twin boys).

If you’re a Padres fan, I’m sure you’ve followed Gyorko’s career with the team going back to his Minor League days when he terrorized pitching at several levels. The numbers are pretty stunning and as teams are trying to predict how Minor League numbers will translate to Major League success, I’m certain the Padres looked at Gyorko’s track record in the Minor Leagues as a predictor of sorts of what kind of Major League he can become.

Last season was certainly a good start.

But what about Gyorko, the amateur? Ever wonder what the scout who recommend Gyorko thought of him the first time he saw Gyorko at West Virginia University.

Me, too. So I asked Padres’ scout Andrew Salvo about Gyorko. I talked with Salvo in 2012 about Gyorko, trying to get a read on him as a player. Here are some of Salvo’s observations:

– “All I heard was that he could rake. I also heard he was a bad athlete, had a bad body, and couldn’t defend. I thought the complete opposite when I saw him that first weekend down. The hit tool was evident, he could swing it and had all the components of what you look for in a good hitter (bat speed, hand strength, balance, hand/eye, among others).

– “He’s a better athlete than what a lot of people give him credit for. Jedd was recruited to play some Division II basketball. He played shortstop all three years at a Big East program, too. Just because he doesn’t run fast doesn’t mean he’s not a good athlete. It’s not the ideal looking body, but he has strength in all the right places (hands, wrists, forearms, core, thighs).

– “He’s just a true grinder. Great makeup guy who’s super self motivated to prove all the doubters wrong. He was an easy one to go to bat for in the draft that year because he had that “it” factor about him to go with the tools.

–  “I was just stoked we had a chance to get him. With the way bats fly off the board in the draft I didn’t think we had a shot at him where we got him.”

Gyorko was taken with the 59th overall pick in the 2010 draft. That was an important pick for the Padres, especially after their first-round pick, Karsten Whitson, opted not to sign.

Anyway, just a few thoughts from the scout who saw Gyorko the most. It should be pointed out that Salvo was also the guy who recommended first-rounder Hunter Renfroe a year ago.

– Corey Brock





About those El Paso uniforms …


There’s a lot to like about Minor League baseball.

Those funky promotions, the fan-friendly nature of it all, the history (Player X once played here and hit a ball XXX feet etc.) and, of course, the not-so recent trend of off-the-wall mascots and uniforms.

As you’re probably aware, the Padres’ Triple-A franchise has moved to El Paso, where the team will eventually play in a new downtown ballpark. The move has been very well received from all that I’ve heard, even if you’re not enamored with their mascot — the Chihuahuas.

Yes, the Chihuahuas.

On Wednesday, the team unveiled its different uniforms for the upcoming season (see photo). There’s five variations, including — paying homage to the Padres and the Swinging Friar — the Swinging Chihuahua.

Holy merchandise boon! Let’s not kid ourselves here: Minor League baseball is about moving merchandise. I’m sure the folks in El Paso will get a nice financial boost from their new ballpark, but they’ll really clean-up in terms of merchandise.

The last that I hear, El Paso gear was flying off the shelves — at the team’s actual store and through online sales. If you’re interested in gear, here’s the link: www.EPChihuahuas.com.

I know when the team announced its mascot, there was some flak about it. And, really, you’re going to have that with no matter what you choose. But you know what? It’s fun. And it got a lot of people talking about baseball in El Paso.

And, of course, it’s already helped move a lot of merchandise. For me, I kind of dig them, name and uniforms. Good for them for (and I hate this term) thinking outside the box.

Not so fast on those Padres players …

The Padres enter the All-Star break with a 34-53 record, which has them tied for last place in the National League West with the Colorado Rockies.

So that means they’ll be sellers at or before the July 31 trade deadline, yes?

Not so fast.

While the Padres certainly have some interesting pieces they could move — and, as you might expect, they’re getting plenty of hits on third baseman Chase Headley — general manager Josh Byrnes might not be inclined to make many deals if any at all.

Why? Because the Padres like Headley just like they like outfielder Carlos Quentin, closer Huston Street as well as starting pitchers Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez.

The popular thought is a team would have to blow the Padres away for them to part with Headley, who is still under team control for two more years, is durable, a good defender and a switch-hitter.

Quentin, the San Diego native, has struggled in July after a torrid start. He could be a nice piece for a team looking for a right-handed bat with pop.

Street, the Padres lone All-Star representative, has converted all 13 of his save opportunities and might make the most sense to move in a deal.

Richard and Volquez? They’re under team control through 2013 (or 2014 in Richard’s case) and they have  been durable. In a strange season that has seen the Padres make 19 disabled list move and with seven — yes, seven, starting pitchers currently on the disabled list, it doesn’t make sense to move them.

Hey, it could be an interesting few weeks for the Padres, who are playing better — 15-13 over their last 28 games. Or it could be downright quiet.

Stay tuned.

Corey Brock, MLB.com

@FollowThePadres on Twitter

Padres Draft Day 2: Rounds 2-15

After four picks on Day One of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, the Padres continued their busy draft schedule with two picks in the first ten of Tuesday’s second round (68, 70). If pitchers (three of four picks) were the focus yesterday, San Diego snagged some offense with its first opportunities Tuesday, selecting junior outfielder Jeremy Baltz of St. John’s University with the 68th pick, and using the 70th pick, compensation pick from the loss of reliever Heath Bell, to snag Oklahoma City University catcher Dane Phillips.

Baltz, a 6’3″, 205-pounder, boasts a right-handed power bat that earned him consensus All-American honors as a freshman for the Red Storm in 2010. A first-team All-Big East selection in 2011, Baltz was named MVP of this weekend’s Chapel Hill, N.C. NCAA Baseball Tournament Regional after hitting .400 (4-10) with a home run, two doubles,eight runs, and a .900 slugging percentage in three games. The projected corner outfielder has shown his ability to perform on the big stage before, as he was also named MVP of the Charlottesville Regional as a freshman.

His All-State high school career at Vestal High School in Vestal, N.Y. earned Baltz a pick in the 45th round by the New York Yankees  of the 2009 Draft before he headed to St. John’s to post one of the most decorated seasons in school history as a freshman. The 21 year-old showed he can hit with the wood, as well, hitting .329 and being named an All-Star with the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League last summer.

Phillips is a left-handed hitting catcher out of Oklahoma City University, and was a first-team NAIA All-American for the Stars following his stellar 2012 campaign. The Oklahoma State transfer was the leading hitter for OCU this year, posting a .410 average to go along with 14 home runs and a .762 slugging percentage.

After a strong freshman season in Stillwater that saw him post a .337 average and three home runs in 54 games, predominantly as a designated hitter, Phillips continued to impress with the bat as a sophomore, posting a similar .339, four-home run season in 2011. But Phillips, frustrated with his lack of time behind the plate, transferred to Arkansas, where he was expected to compete for the starting spot. Unfortunately (or fortunately for OCU), the NCAA denied his request to transfer, and Phillips found his way to the NAIA’s Oklahoma City, where he has found offensive success while honing skills behind the plate.

The 6’1″, 195-pounder out of Nacogdoches, Texas, boasts a college baseball pedigree, as his father, David, played baseball and football at Texas A&M, while his brother, Dan, played baseball at Mississippi. Phillips, 21, was drafted in the 49th round of the 2009 draft by Seattle before heading to Oklahoma State.

With their third-round pick, 102nd overall, the Padres select SS Fernando Perez out of Central Arizona College. Perez skipped his senior season at Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista, Calif., earning his diploma in November to head to the junior college scene in time for the 2012 season. He impressed as a freshman, hitting .341 with an impressive 11 triples, 20 doubles, and four homers. Listed as a shortstop, but probably better suited to third in the majors, Perez garnered interest for his offensive prowess from the left-side, more than his defense up the middle.

The Padres went back to pitching with their first pick of the fourth round, selecting high-schooler Andrew Lockett 135th overall. At 6’5″, 225, the right-hander is in keeping with the kind of big-time (literally) pitchers the Padres seem to be looking at early on. Lockett, known better as “Walker,” is committed to the University of South Florida, and was also a strong offensive contributor at first for the Providence School in Jacksonville, Florida.

Speed in the outfield emerges as another trend in the Padres draft so far, as San Diego spends its fifth-round pick on JUCO Centerfielder Mallex Smith, a 5’9″, high-speed dynamo out of Santa Fe Junior College in Florida. Smith swiped 31 bases in 37 attempts this season, while posting a .387 average. Smith was selected in the 4th round of the 2011 draft by Milwaukee after an impressive prep career at Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida, and is a left-handed hitter whose speed aids his potential defensively.

More speed for the Padres in the sixth-round comes in the form of Alabama high school shortstop Jalen Goree. A 5’10″, 175-pounder from Bibb County High School in Centreville, Alabama, Goree will most likely be a second baseman at the next level. The right-handed bat has made moves in the JUCO direction, signing with Northwest Florida State College in January, and joins comp pick Travis Jankowski and 5th-round pick Mallex Smith as top speed players joining the Padres system in this draft.

Padres return to pitching – and to the southeast – grabbing Central Florida pitcher Jose (Roman) Madrid with their seventh-round pick, 225th overall. Madrid is a right-handed reliever who posted a 1.00 ERA in 45 innings of work in 2012…45 innings in which he struck out 46.

Another athletic outfielder is headed to the Padres system, as San Diego takes Kentucky outfielder Brian Adams with the 225th pick. Adams is a scholarship wide receiver for the Wildcats’ football team, but make no mistake: Adams is a baseball guy all the way, having announced recently that he will forego his final two seasons on the gridiron to focus on the diamond. That’s probably a good decision: Adams took over as the starter in centerfield as early as his freshman season, and hitting .288 in his first full season at that position as a sophomore. He hit .250 in limited action (27 games) in 2012, but with a full-time focus on baseball and the athleticism that got him a Division I chance in football, Adams joins guys like Jankowski and Smith as stellar athletes in the Padres’ system’s outfielding corps.

The Padres used their ninth-round pick on infielder River Stevens, who posted an off-the-charts .449 batting average at Allen Hancock College in 2012. Stevens has committed to Cal State Fullerton after one year with the Bulldogs, a team managed by his uncle Chris Stevens. A prep standout at San Diego’s Mission Hills high, Stevens transferred to Allen Hancock after one injury-shortened season at Palomar College in San Marcos.

Stephen Carmon, a shortstop from the University of South Carolina-Aiken, is the Padres tenth-round selection, 285th overall. A .348 hitter in 2012, he is yet another player to fit the ultra-speedy mold that is coming to characterize Padres position-player selections in this draft. The small, quick lefty (he’s listed at 5’7″, but so is Alexi Amarista…) was 45-47 on stolen base attempts as a senior.

You mean you didn’t expect to see two SUNY Stony Brook guys in the Padres system by the end of the day…? San Diego grabbed its second Sea Wolf of the day in Maxx Tissenbaum, a 5’11″, 191-pound infielder who earned First Team All-America East honors for his performance as a junior in 2012. A third-team All-American selection, Tissenbaum hit .390 with 48 RBIs – two more than his teammate, Padres day one pick OF Travis Jankowski – this season. The story on Tissenbaum is his propensity for contact: the Ontario native struck out an astonishing SIX times in 223 at-bats in 2012, making him one of the most difficult players to strike out in NCAA history.

After four straight position players, the Padres went back to the rubber in the twelfth-round with lanky 6’5″, 185-pound lefty Drew Harrelson, Georgia’s 1-AA HS pitcher of the year in 2011 for a season in which he struck out 97 in 61 1/3 innings pitched. Harrelson is currently planning to head to junior college, having committed to Middle Georgia College.

Back-to-back infielders and now back-to-back pitchers snagged by the Padres as the thirteenth round sees Puerto Rican Baseball Academy product Malcom Diaz join the Friar fold. At 6’2″, 185 pounds he, like his fellow 18 year-old Harrelson (see above), have some filling out to do…but all that means is more strength is coming to what many seem to think is very solid raw arm strength. Diaz has signed with Alabama State, and it remains to be seen just how strong his commitment to the Hornets is. (Side note: regardless of what comes from these prospects in the future, you now know the mascots of Alabama State, SUNY-Stony Brook, Oklahoma City University, and Allen Hitchcock College. Knowledge you didn’t know you couldn’t live without…and now don’t have to.)

And now for something completely different, (at least geographically) a Missoula, Montana native, high school standout Andrew Sopko, is the Padres 14th-round selection, 435th overall. While he certainly is the only new Padre so far from Big Sky Country, Sopko is in keeping with San Diego’s recent (and by recent I mean…the past two rounds) emphasis on long, lanky arms. At 6’2″, 185, Sopko can also still fill out, and the righty is currently signed to do so at Gonzaga.

UPDATE: Day Two at the draft is officially complete for the Padres. San Diego rounded out their Tuesday with another pitcher, six-foot right-hander Cory Bostjancic of Marin Community College in California. Bostjancic was named to the All-Bay Valley second team as an outfielder after hitting over .300 in 2012, but can hit 90 mph with his fastball, which will earn the 19 year-old a chance on the rubber in the Padres system.

Day Two Draft Blog by Chelsea Janes, Associate Reporter MLB.com, San Diego Padres 

What to make of the first week …

Before we pass judgement on the first week of the regular season — and, really, it wasn’t even a full week, instead, the Padres played all of four games, dropping three before defeating the Dodgers on Sunday.

I’m not a big fan of passing judgement — good or bad — on small sample-sizes. It’s not a good way to go through life and in terms of a full Major League season of 162 games, it’s mostly a pointless venture.

That said …

Let’s look at a few things that really stood out during these first four games. As you might guess, most of them aren’t really pleasant. This wasn’t a team that was snake-bitten or largely unlucky in these three games. You can’t really argue that they ‘should have won’ this or that game. You don’t play well, you lose. It’s pretty simple.

Still … it’s four games and if this funk happens in June, few notice. But we don’t have a lot to compare this week with (not Spring Training results, since those are about as salient as the Pet Rock).

So what did we see this week?

– Not much in the way of defense. Through their first four games, the Padres have eight errors. That’s two more than the Giants. Eight errors for a team that has/will depended/depend heavily on run prevention? That was surprising. I don’t think the Padres are a bad defensive team, but I don’t think the will be as good as, say, 2010. We could easily check back in next week and the team might still have eight errors. This looks like a little bit of an aberration to me. Again, let’s give this a little time with the understanding that this team can’t be successful at their current defensive rate.

– The starting pitching scares me. It was easy to pinpoint the Padres hopes for a big season on an improved effort offensively. That’s still the case, but I think what got overlooked some was the starting pitching and that you had two starters coming off surgery (Moseley, Richard) and all without much in the way of a history of being innings-eaters, guys capable and with a history of working deep into games. The first three starters of the year go 5, 4 2/3 and 5 innings. That places a tremendous burden on the bullpen. Add to that Tim Stauffer’s strained right elbow. This is something well worth watching moving forward. The Padres don’t need everyone to do what Clayton Richard did Sunday (7 innings, no earned runs), but it would certainly help.

– The offense. Again, no need to read too much into numbers here, though the 36 strikeouts in four games is a little alarming. No matter what you think of Chad Billingsley, you have to give him some credit for having a monster outing (11 strikeouts, 8 1/3 innings) on Saturday, even if he’d never really shown some of the things he did well (according to the Padres) in his previous starts against them (he has defeated them 12 times, I should add). Are the Padres missing Carlos Quentin? No doubt. They should be better off when he returns from the DL. Strikeouts are bad, hits are good. Duh, I get it Corey.

Again, it will be interesting to review these points in a week, two weeks to see if there’s improvement.

Corey Brock, MLB.com

Twitter: @FollowThePadres


It’s just one game …

Happy Friday, did everyone survive Opening Day?

Great atmosphere at Petco Park yesterday on a postage stamp kind of day, albeit a little cool.

Based on emails, story comments and Tweets, I was a little surprised with the backlash from fans during/after the game.

I realize it’s been six months since the Padres last played a meaningful game but I thought we were past the point of making too much out of one game, especially one played in April.

A random sampling:

– “Time for Headley to go.”

– “Being a Padres fan is difficult.”

– “I really don’t know why I bother with the Padres.”

– “Looks like a vintage Padres offense being run out there.”

– “Padres lose. I thought pitching and defense were supposed to be their strengths.”

During manager Bud Black’s postgame press conference he was essentially asked if he was ‘disappointed’ that Chase Headley struck out with the bases loaded. Black, to his credit, smiled and let the reporter off the hook.

“It’s just one game,” he said.

Hey, nothing wrong, if you’re a fan, about being frustrated by what you saw on Thursday — how pitcher Edinson Volquez walked in two runs with bases-loaded walks, the three errors and the lack of offense with the exception of the thunderbolt Cameron Maybin nearly drilled into the side of the West Metal Supply Co. building. And, of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

But it was just one game.

If the schedule had, say, 16 games, the loss Thursday would certainly be viewed as more critical. But it doesn’t. The Padres still have 161 games left on a schedule that runs into October.

I will say this. The April schedule is brutal with 15 more games against National League West teams beginning tonight. There’s also four games against the Phillies. The Padres, for obvious reasons, simply can’t afford any more lapses in run prevention, the hallmark of this team over the last few years — pitching and defense. There wasn’t much of it on Thursday.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be tonight. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. I hate the whole season-is-a-marathon thing, but it’s applicable in this case.

Anyway, that’s that.

Minor League Highlight from Thursday:

How about left-handed pitcher Frank Garces, the 22-year-old who struck out nine, allowed two hits and no earned runs in six innings for Class A Fort Wayne? I’ll be the first to admit I know little about Garces. I’ll have to poke around a little. But his line from Opening Day really stood out, as did the two hits, walk and two RBIs that shortstop Jace Peterson had in the same game.

Corey Brock, MLB.com

Twitter: @FollowThePadres


The best Opening Day ever …

If you’re a baseball fan of any varying degree — and if you’re reading this, I trust you are — I think we can all agree that Opening Day is the best day of the year.

I’ll save all that cliche stuff about ‘starting anew.’ Let someone else write that. Let’s just say there’s nothing else in professional sports like the first day of baseball season. The first college football games of the year? Watching your team steamroll Bethune-Cookman? Sorry. The first NFL or NBA game of the year? No. That just doesn’t cut it.

With baseball, it’s just different.

I don’t know about you, but Opening Day is all about making memories. I’ll be working today but there was a time when, not unlike you, I was a fan, when I bought a ticket, when sat in the stands with friends and cheered like a wild teenager.

That’s because my favorite Opening Day memory involves be actually being a wild teenager.

Buckle up.

It was April of 1986 and I was a junior in high school. I grew up 40 minutes south of Seattle and spent a lot of time in that since-demolished parking garage called the Kingdome (maybe you’ve been there, maybe you haven’t. If you haven’t, you didn’t miss much). The place did get very loud on occasion (see 1995 playoffs and Grand Slam Summer Jam, featuring Loverboy, BOC, others) when it was filled (which wasn’t often).

Anyway, we didn’t have a high school baseball game that day, maybe it was rained out (happened a lot) and we got out of practice early to go watch my team (then), the Mariners, face the Angels on Opening Day in the Kingdome.

April 8, 1986, it was. I can still remember the details and thanks to Baseball-Reference, I can fill in the blanks pretty well.

For most of my youth, the Mariners were pretty bad. There would be beautiful days where I sat in the Kingdome with 9,000 other fans, watching the Mariners get trounced. Every once in a while (on days games) someone on an upper level would open a door and you would catch a peek of sunlight. But you know what? We didn’t care.

Side note: My mother took me and a bunch of my friends on the train to Seattle for a game when I was, say, 12. Amazing time. Got my picture taken with this guy. Remember him?

Anyway, the game.

The Mariners are facing the Angels who have a young Wally Joyner and an old Reggie Jackson in the lineup. Mike Witt was pitching. He was always pitching against the Mariners. If you don’t remember Witt, the guy threw gas. He had eight strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings and his team had a 4-2 lead when he left the game. Donnie Moore (ugh, sad irony) blew the save when he allowed two runs in the ninth inning.

Now, me and my buddies were sitting in the second deck in left field. Not great seats, but we didn’t care. Pretty tame game until that ninth inning when Alvin Davis led off the inning with a double. The Mariners then sent Barry Bonnell into the game to run because Davis had that proverbial piano-on-the-back thing going for him, though he could certainly rake.

Presley then tied the game with a two-run home run off Moore. The fans, well, what was left of the 42,121, went bonkers. Opening Day, home run in the bottom of the ninth? Are you kidding? As a soon to be 17-year-old, this ranked along the lines of getting your driver’s license.

It only got better from there.

Seattle reliever Pete Ladd held the Angels scoreless in the top of the 10th inning. Facing 39-yearold Ken Forsch, who was in the final year of 16-year career, takes the mound for the Angels in the bottom of the inning.

Terrible inning for Forsch. Great inning for the Mariners. An amazing experience for us.

Here’s how it went (with liner notes):

– Forsch strikes out Danny Tartabull. (Ugh, Scott Bankhead trade. Really?)

– Forsch walks Phil Bradley (Loved watching the former Mizzou quarterback play)

– Ivan Calderon (RIP) singles to center field. Bradley, who could run, scampers (yes, scampers) to third base. Runners on the corners.

– Forsch falls then walks one of my favorite Mariners, Gorman Thomas, to load the bases.

– Bonnell (who entered the game as a replacement for Davis … which I still don’t agree with) pops up in foul territory. Ugh. Two outs.

OK. This, my friends, is where my Opening Day memory was made.

Forsch serves up a pitch to Presley (he of the game-tying home run in the ninth inning), who sends it into the seats in left field. Not just a walk-off home run. But a walk-off grand slam. Amazing.

For some reason, I was wearing a yellow sweatshirt. It was borrowed, I believe. It probably wasn’t clean. Why is this important? Because on the news that night, watching the replay, you could see me (or a small, yellow figure, with my friends) jumping up and down in left field after the grand slam.

Holy smokes, it was fun recalling that. Opening Day.

I’ll leave you with that as we head to the Padres opener today against the Dodgers.

Who knows what you’ll see today. Who knows what you’ll remember. Maybe you’ll be tracking a box score 26 years later on Baseball-Reference, trying to piece together details from your own memorable Opening Day. Maybe that day is today.

Enjoy today!

Corey Brock, MLB.com

Twitter: @FollowThePadres

The story behind the 25-man roster

Good morning and happy day-before-Opening Day.

I was off Tuesday, doing the kind of things I should be doing (or that my wife expects) after spending 43 days in Arizona. I would tell you but I don’t want to bore you more than I already do.

Spoiler alert: I mowed my own lawn. Sorry, inside joke there.

Anyway, the Padres defeated the Royals last night at Petco Park, 2-1. You can read about all the details here.

Clayton Richard looked good, was efficient and got a lot of ground balls. That’s sort of the recipe for success that worked well for him in 2010 when he won 14 games.

It also goes to show that if you get a pitcher out of Arizona, different things happen — most of them good. For those calling for Richard to move out of the rotation after some rough starts this spring, this is a good teaching moment for you moving forward. Enter with your own risk when you’re trying to evaluate performances in spring.

Busy day at the ballpark, as the Padres announced their 25-man Opening Day roster after the game.

What to make of the 25-man roster? There’s a few interesting things to take note of.

Andy Parrino won the backup infield job over Everth Cabrera. I’m sure this rated as a tough decision for the front office. Parrino played well this spring and showed that he can handle several positions defensively. That’s the key here. The Padres aren’t wondering if Parrino is going to win a game with his bat this season. They just don’t want him to lose one with his glove, if that makes sense. I will be honest, I thought the job was for Cabrera to lose. Parrino more than narrowed the gap this spring. I should probably apologize for not giving him a fair shake. Fruit basket, maybe?

Brad Brach didn’t make the team, but I think he was more a victim of circumstances than anything else. I think Brach more than showed that he deserved a spot on the 25-man roster. He was very good this spring and rediscovered his change-up, a pitch he hadn’t used much since college. Now, a one-inning reliever and a Minor League closer doesn’t need more than two pitches (usually) but I like Brach’s confidence in his change-up. I also like his makeup. This is a guy who has saved over 100 games in the Minor Leagues. I think we’ll see him a lot in San Diego in 2012.

– Now for these circumstances I was talking about regarding Brach. The Padres didn’t place Tim Stauffer (right triceps strain) on the disabled list, which means we’ll see him that second week of the season. But, of course, it essentially means the Padres are down a pitcher for these first four games against the Dodgers. That means the Padres had to carry a true long man and that spot went to Micah Owings. If the Padres get bombed in a game, they can lean on Owings for multiple innings. Brach can’t do that. So this really wasn’t a Brach vs. Owings issue.

– Also, I think Anthony Bass and his performance this spring changed the way the Padres view him. Brass rolled his impressive performance in 2011 with the Padres into the Arizona Fall League and then right into Spring Training, where he impressed the staff. His fastball command was very good, his change-up was also good at times and he got better at controlling the running game. I wrote about Bass on March 21 and how I thought the Padres would use him much like the way they did Cory Luebke a year ago. I think the team views him as an important piece to the bullpen more so than when Spring Training started. Don’t look for him in mop-up roles.

Jeremy Hermida made the Opening Day roster with Mark Kotsay going on the disabled list. Honestly, I don’t know how much he’ll play but he’s got some pop to offer off the bench. He had a good spring, too — even after tearing ligaments in his pinky. Five outfielders on the roster so it’s going to be tough to get much playing time.

That’s it for now.

Corey Brock, MLB.com

Twitter: @FollowThePadres

One last look at Spring Training …

Well, another Spring Training is in the books.

After six weeks in Arizona, I pulled into the driveway on Sunday afternoon, ready to see my wife, Schnauzer and, soon enough, the weeds I need to tend to in the backyard.

On the five and a half drive yesterday, I started thinking about the time spent in Arizona and what we learned during that time. I decided to try to wrap things up in words, give a few thoughts about the things I saw, what I liked and what it all means.

So here’s a few of the things that stood out to me in Arizona (in no particular order):

Pitcher Casey Kelly. The Padres have worked with him to quicken his pace as well as slide him to the first base side of the rubber to create a little deception and make it easier for him to throw his fastball down and away. He had a 1.74 ERA in 20 2/3 innings with 18 strikeouts and two walks. I think he took a big step forward this spring. He’ll try to roll that momentum over to his time with Triple-A Tucson. Tough ballpark and very tough league for pitchers.

The young talent. There wasn’t a day that passed where we didn’t talk about the young talent in camp. Erlin, Wieland, Kelly and, as manager Bud Black called them, the B-bombers, the young players who would fill in late in games. Rymer Liriano, Jonathan Galvez, Edinson Rincon, Jaff Decker, Matt Clark. Too many to name. There was no shortage of talk all winter about how good the Minor League system is. This spring, we got to see it for ourselves. The future looks very promising.

First baseman Yonder Alonso. The Padres made it clear early that they wanted their new first baseman to play a lot and to get a good look at the pitchers from the NL West, pitchers he’s bound to see this season. Well, Alonso played a ton. He told me a few days ago that he was getting tired. That makes sense. He had 72 at-bats (hitting .314 with seven extra-base hits). He walked three times but I think he’ll walk more during the regular season. As advertised, the guy uses the whole field. I saw him double down the left field line on a ball away. I saw him homer to right-center, I saw him turn on a number of balls. It looks like an advanced approach to hitting. He told me he’s had the same approach since he was 13. He was much better later in game, the result, he told me, of his body telling him it’s time to hit.

Right fielder Will Venable. Venable told me in camp that, before this spring, he’s often tinkered with different stances in hopes of finding one that works. Through work last winter with hitting coach Phil Plantier, Venable believes he’s found something that works. He’s quieter in his stance. The bat is quiet and he’s done away with the double-tap in his stride that threw off his balance. Better yet for him, he’s quit worrying what went wrong during an at-bat and instead focusing on what he’s doing right. Here’s a snippet from Venable:

“I’ve asked them a lot of questions,” Venable said of Plantier and Alonzo Powell, both in their first season with the team. “If I ask them what I did wrong on a swing, they will tell me not to worry about it and instead focus on the five good swings that I just took. For me, it’s not focusing on the bad stuff.”

Other highlights? It’s hard not to like the three deals the Padres did in March to lock up Cameron Maybin, Nick Hundley and, last week, Cory Luebke. The Padres will fork over a guarantee of $46 million in those three deals. All three deals rank as club-friendly. All three follow what new GM Josh Byrnes saw work well during his days with John Hart in the Indians front office in the 1990s.

A few things to keep an eye on moving forward:

The offense. Yes, it was much better in Spring Training. But what do averages in Arizona get you in the regular season? Zilch. Still, I think the offense will be better one-through-eight than it was in 2011. Really, it has to be if the Padres are to eclipse the 71 victories they had a year ago. I wrote about the offense the other day as part of our season preview. You can read about it here.

Starting pitching. Not much of a history here as far as innings-eaters go, and that scares me a little. If you can’t work deep into a game, that puts stress on the bullpen. Those appearances start to pile up and that can lead to some bad things. That Tim Stauffer might start the season on the disabled list with a strained right triceps isn’t good. The Padres are going to needs guys like Edinson Volquez and Cory Luebke to log some big innings in 2012. The Padres, who lean on the run prevention model as much as anyone in the game, need their starters to work deep. Here’s what Byrnes had to say.

“In general, I think starters’ innings are a real indicator of a team’s success,” Byrnes said. “… It has a huge carry-over effect. You want your starters to pitch deep in games.”

Anyway, just a few thoughts as we move forward toward Opening Day on Thursday.

Remember, all your Padres news can be found right here. Bookmark it. Also, you can always finding me on Twitter as well at @FollowThePadres.

Corey Brock, MLB.com




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers