SAN DIEGO -- Dinelson Lamet took a detour from his rehab in Arizona to be at the Padres’ opener against the D-backs on Thursday. He threw a bullpen session Wednesday at Petco Park during the Padres’ workout day and will head back to the Peoria Sports Complex following the Opening Day game.
Before the game, Lamet was officially placed on the injured list with a right UCL strain -- the team finally providing some clarity on the injury that kept him out of the postseason last year. That move was a formality. Lamet was never going to open the season in the rotation -- a product of an organizational plan to have Lamet at full strength when it matters most.
"Overall, it's just understanding that this is a long season, and we want him firing the most bullets as we go through the season and definitely pitching as we get deeper into the year into October," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said Thursday morning during his annual start-of-season press conference. "We just wanted to make sure that -- in terms of the build-up -- we're doing everything possible to build him up the right way. He's passed every test."
Lamet appeared in two Cactus League games, never exceeding the 30-pitch mark and only once pitching into a second inning. He threw in several back-field simulated games, but had only one outing of multiple innings there.
Still, Preller offered some reason for optimism, noting that Lamet would begin increasing his workload in the very near future at the team's alternate training site in Peoria, Ariz.
"I think he'll start progressing a little bit more quicker and putting on a little bit more bulk from an innings standpoint, a pitching standpoint, number of pitches," Preller said. "Hopefully, we'll have him here sooner rather than later."
The Padres have been hesitant to put any timetable on a potential return for Lamet. Perhaps notably, he was placed on the 15-day IL -- not the 60-day IL -- when the team unveiled its Opening Day roster on Thursday. That clears the way, perhaps, for a return in late April or early May, if Lamet continues progressing pain-free.
"Ideally I'd be breaking with the team," Lamet said after his most recent start on Monday. "I always want to be with that group and help them the most that I can. But at the same time, when it's a matter of health, I understand why I'm staying back. ... I know that I'm going to be ready. That's the thing that matters most for me. To be ready, I need to be healthy."
Pham led off and played center against the D-backs on Thursday, with Jurickson Profar in left. Both Profar and Pham saw time in center field during Spring Training and held their own without any glaring deficiencies. Pham has played 198 big league games in center but hasn’t done so since playing three games there in 2018 with Tampa Bay.
The Padres formally moved a host of players to the 15-day injured list, in addition to Lamet and Grisham:
• Right-hander Austin Adams (right elbow strain)
• Right-hander Dan Altavilla (right calf strain)
• Right-hander Javy Guerra (right elbow sprain)
• Right-hander Pierce Johnson (right adductor strain)
• Catcher Austin Nola (left middle-finger fracture)
• Outfielder Jorge Oña (right elbow inflammation)
• Left-hander Matt Strahm (right patellar tendon repair)
The Oña move was the only surprise of the bunch. Oña was never a serious candidate for a roster place, but it hadn't been revealed that he was battling injury until Thursday. Meanwhile, right-hander Michel Baez was placed on the 60-day injured list after Tommy John surgery, clearing space for reliever Nabil Crismatt on the Opening Day roster.