Padres open camp with 3 burning questions

February 18th, 2016

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Aside from losing 88 games, Padres general manager A.J. Preller still can't pinpoint precisely what went wrong in 2015.

"I think we had good character guys," Preller said. "For whatever reason, part of it [was the] on-field [play]; we had some deficiencies and what not, but it just never really fully gelled together," Preller said.

"But clearly we were lacking a little bit in terms of either on-field talent or the dynamic that good teams have."

• Padres Spring Training: Tickets | Schedule

Preller is hoping that won't be the case this season, and he'll begin to get some answers beginning Friday, when pitchers and catchers hold their first workout at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Comeback candidates | Newcomers | Prospects | Lineup

Preller hired a new manager (Andy Green), has retained key members of the team's coaching staff (including pitching coach Darren Balsley), and found someone to anchor one of the team's biggest needs (shortstop Alexei Ramirez).

Many of the faces will look different from 2015, especially on the pitching side, as the bullpen has undergone a dramatic facelift.

Here are three questions that must be answered by the end of Spring Training:

1. Where will we see Wil Myers this spring?

Look for Myers to see almost all his time at first base this spring, and watch how he progresses and grows with the position. He's excited about playing there, after starting last season at center field and then moving to first base.

It's difficult to say what to expect from Myers. He hasn't played in more than 88 games in each of his first three seasons, as injuries to each wrist have led to limited action. But if you look at Myers' 2013 American League Rookie of the Year Award campaign with the Rays, it provides a glimpse of what he's capable of -- .293/.354/.478 with 36 extra-base hits in 88 games.

Myers looked on his way a to another fine season year ago before another wrist injury sidelined him in May. But he just turned 25 in December, and the team is optimistic his best days are still ahead of him.

2. Matt Kemp is in right field. But who is going to play left field and center field?

These will be a position battles that might take all six-plus weeks of Spring Training to figure out. San Diego likes Jon Jay in center field, though Melvin Upton Jr. did a nice job there last season. Rookie Travis Jankowski figures to be in the mix in center as well, and watch for him to get a lot of at-bats in games this spring.

If Jay does get the center-field job, will Upton be fine moving to left field? What about a wild card in Rule 5 Draft selection Jabari Blash? He can play left, has monster power and, like Jankowski, will get a long look this spring. Don't rule out Alex Dickerson and his left-handed bat and Minor League track record of getting on base.

3. What will the bullpen look like by Opening Day?

Balsley sure has his work cut out for him, as the Padres will open camp with a handful of new pitchers -- many without any big league service time -- looking to win a job in the bullpen. Veteran Fernando Rodney is the likely favorite to win the closer job based on his experience. But who will set up for him? Jon Edwards? Kevin Quackenbush? One of the new guys? Can San Diego keep 21-year-old righty and Rule 5 Draft pick Luis Perdomo on the roster the entire year?

The club has a little more than six weeks to figure all of this out. Stay tuned.