Padres look to welcome back Tatis from season-ending injury
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres head into spring training fresh off the disappointment of not landing Mookie Betts but eager to get on with the ever-evolving rebuilding they hope will make them competitive sooner rather than later.
Betts, the 2018 AL MVP with Boston, ended up with the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won the NL West seven straight seasons and reached the World Series in 2017 and 2018.
While welcoming a handful of new players, the Padres expect shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to bounce back from a stress reaction in his lower back that ended his exciting rookie season in mid-August.
Rookie manager Jayce Tingler said reports of Tatis’ offseason workouts in the Dominican Republic “have been ultra-positive, and certainly watching a lot of videos from him swinging the bat, of him running and doing all of his training, I think the organization is very encouraged where he’s at right now.”
San Diego hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 or reached the playoffs since 2006. They have lost at least 91 games each of the last four years.
Pitchers and catchers report to Peoria, Arizona, on Wednesday.
Tingler replaces Andy Green, who was fired with eight games to go in the 2019 season and the Padres on their way to a last-place finish at 70-92. The Padres bolstered their anemic offense with the addition of left fielder Tommy Pham and their bullpen by adding Drew Pomeranz, who parlayed two stellar months in Milwaukee’s bullpen into a $34 million, four-year free agent contract. They also added right-hander Zach Davies and right fielder Trent Grisham via a trade with Milwaukee, and second baseman Jurickson Profar in a trade with Oakland.
ROOKIES TO WATCH
After promoting Tatis and right-hander Chris Paddack just before opening day last season, the Padres aren’t expected to have any rookies on the opening day roster this year. The next prospects who could be promoted include left-hander MacKenzie Gore and right-hander Luis Patino.
The infield is set with 3B Manny Machado, SS Tatis, 2B Jurickson Profar and 1B Eric Hosmer. Machado admitted he had a disappointing first season in San Diego after signing a $300 million deal after spring training had started. He said he’s had a normal offseason, “without any business in front it. Just able to get as strong as I possibly can, having a normal offseason, which is going through my routine — hitting, weight training, field work, sprinting, basically just doing what I’ve done for the last eight years of my career and just feel better than I have ever. Really looking forward to just getting back out there and performing like I have in the past.”
The Padres must figure out what to do with Wil Myers, who is still owed $60 million during the next three years as part of an $83 million, six-year deal signed before the 2017 season. They tried to move him as part of a proposed Betts deal. He can play any of the outfield spots or first base. At catcher, Francisco Mejia could push light-hitting Austin Hedges to the bench. There will be competition for jobs at the back end of the rotation and in the bullpen. Paddack, Garrett Richards, Dinelson Lamet and Zach Davies appear set. Joey Lucchesi, Cal Quantrill and Michel Baez, among others, will compete for the final spot.
The Padres open the regular season at home on March 26 against the Colorado Rockies.