Gore looks good against tough Padres lineup

February 27th, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- won’t face many tougher lineups this season than what the Padres had to offer him on a backfield Saturday afternoon.

So it stands to reason that if Gore, the sport's top pitching prospect, is making quick work of a San Diego offense that qualifies as one of the best in baseball, it might not be long before he's doing the same against other big league clubs.

In his first multi-inning live session of the spring, Gore was sharp, facing seven hitters and allowing only one baserunner -- a leadoff walk to .

Gore's fastball played in the mid- to upper 90s, and he used his curveball plenty -- including a gorgeous backdoor bender to cap his afternoon with a strikeout of .

Technically, Gore struck out three of the seven hitters he faced. But he added a fourth after he jammed and induced a weak pop-up to first base. The Padres decided to continue the at-bat anyway at 2-2, and Gore won the battle again, with a fastball painted on the outside corner.

To be clear: It's February, and the excitement surrounding Gore needs to be tempered as such. But his early-spring showing is viewed very optimistically in Padres camp.

A season ago, the Padres thought Gore might earn himself a big league breakthrough. But he struggled early at the team's alternate site, particularly with his command. A handful of other Padres pitching prospects would break through in 2020. Gore never did.

In the eyes of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, that's certainly not an indictment.

"Last year, it was just so different," Rothschild said on Thursday. "You're a kid that comes in with a lot of fanfare, and rightfully so. You go to a place where you're there every day, with the same guys. You're facing the same hitters. ... Everybody looks around and expects incredible things, and you know you're not necessarily there yet.

"I think that impacted him a lot, but I think he's taken it in a positive way and used it to his advantage coming in here."

When the Padres traded for , and this offseason, there were questions about where, exactly, Gore fit into the team's future plans. The Padres say there's plenty of room. They're looking for rotation depth and might even carry a six-man rotation.

First things first, of course: Gore has to earn that big league callup, and he's off to a nice start this spring.

"He's come in with a purpose," Rothschild said. "The ball's coming out of his hand with explosiveness. He's worked on some things breaking ball-wise and gotten some better spin on the curveball. As he gets some innings in, the changeup is going to play really well. ... I think it's going to be exciting to watch."

Myers embraces a new mindset
As the longest-tenured Padre, has spent plenty of time in Peoria preparing for seasons in which the Padres were noncompetitive and would finish well below .500. This camp, he says, feels different.

"It's not ‘hopeful’ this year," Myers said. "It's more a matter of fact that we are good."

Indeed, Myers' perspective is a unique one, considering the ups and downs he's experienced within the organization. He arrived after the 2014 offseason in general manager A.J. Preller's first transaction binge.

It took a while, but Myers finally reached the postseason with the Padres in 2020, and he says there's been a fundamental shift in the undercurrents of the organization.

"It was great to ... have that winning culture here, really for the first time that I've been here," Myers said. "Going out there for the first time, expecting to win ballgames and knowing that we could -- it was a different feel in this clubhouse, which is something that I've wanted since I've been here, and we finally got it."

Worth noting

• Manager Jayce Tingler says he plans to start a significant chunk of his regulars in Sunday's Cactus League opener against the Mariners, including Tatis, Machado and Myers. Here's the full team Tingler laid out:

• Snell will make his Cactus League debut on Wednesday against the Brewers, Tingler said.

• Myers was asked if he'd been approached by Snell for his No. 4, which Snell wore with Tampa Bay. The number holds significance to both players, but Myers ultimately invoked his Padres seniority.

"I'll tell you what," Myers quipped. "He's going to win more Cy Youngs as No. 24 than No. 4."

Snell, of course, was the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner.

• The Padres are optimistic that utilityman will be able to participate in Sunday's workout. Profar's arrival to Spring Training was delayed due to a visa issue.