Full year together could benefit roster in 2016
Jankowski, new additions may have bright future with time to develop
LOS ANGELES -- Following a 6-3 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday in the final game of the regular season, Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko was asked to try to describe the 2015 season.
One word said it all.
"'Disappointing' is a good word," Gyorko said. "Obviously, it's not where any of us want to be. But we've got a lot to build on. A lot of the same guys are going to be here next season. We've still got a talented group."
The Padres, who entered the season with heightened expectations after general manager A.J. Preller essentially revamped the roster last winter, finished 74-88, losing 21 of their final 31 games.
But there were some signs of growth, even Sunday as the Padres were swept by their neighbors to the north, the Dodgers, who are headed to the precise place where the Padres hoped to be going this week -- the postseason.
Rookie right fielder Travis Jankowski, who began the season in Double-A, hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning. It was his second homer since he was added to the roster last month.
Known more for his speed and defense, Jankowski showed he might be ready for regular at-bats in 2016 -- possibly in a platoon in center field with Melvin Upton Jr., who had two hits on Sunday.
"It was huge. I took this as a learning experience. Getting accustomed to being in the big leagues and knowing what you need to do to compete every day and how to treat your body, how to play at the highest potential," he said.
Preller and his baseball operations staff will sit down on Monday to discuss how they want to go about improving the roster. That's not all, though. The team will have to decide soon on who will manage the team next season.
After Sunday's loss, the team announced that interim manager Pat Murphy, who was 42-54 since taking over for Bud Black on June 16, won't be back in the same capacity in 2016 and that the search for a manager begins immediately.
Before the announcement, Murphy said he thought the future of the team was in good hands.
"I think they'll be a force to be reckoned with in the future," Murphy said. "A lot of guys did some things to lay a foundation for the future, which I think is bright. I think the pitching staff comes back stronger than ever. I think there's reason for hope."
The team will need to make a call on several notable free agents, including pitcher Ian Kennedy, who figures to receive a qualifying offer. Outfielder Justin Upton, who led the team in home runs (26), will be a free agent and is expected to sign elsewhere.
Gyorko, for one, thinks the team will be better off in the future having played an entire season together.
"There are so many new guys that even after a full year, you still might not know everyone as well as you'd like to. I think that will help. I think it's going to be better next year," Gyorko said.
"I think we definitely have the right pieces, enough good guys in here to win. I think we're capable of doing it."