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Notes: Gore 'nasty' vs. Tatis; Quantrill gets nod

@AJCassavell
February 19, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres aren't exactly easing MacKenzie Gore into his first big league camp. The lineup for Gore's second live batting practice session of Spring Training on Wednesday: Manny Machado, Jurickson Profar, Greg Garcia and Fernando Tatis Jr. -- a quartet of certifiable big leaguers, including a pair

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres aren't exactly easing MacKenzie Gore into his first big league camp.

The lineup for Gore's second live batting practice session of Spring Training on Wednesday: Manny Machado, Jurickson Profar, Greg Garcia and Fernando Tatis Jr. -- a quartet of certifiable big leaguers, including a pair of superstars.

Living up to his billing as MLB Pipeline's top pitching prospect, Gore looked like he belonged from the start. He blew a fastball past Machado with his first pitch. In total, Gore threw 20-25 pitches, mixing in all four of his offerings. He induced a few whiffs and didn't allow a ball out of the infield.

It wasn't all perfect, and Gore was quick to point that out afterward. He missed wildly with a couple fastballs. But Gore is shaking off rust, just like everyone else.

"It was better today, not great," Gore said. "We keep doing that, I think we'll be all right. I made some pitches, but I also had some big misses in there. But we're getting there."

Gore's changeup was especially effective on Wednesday. He got Profar and Tatis to swing over it. But his best pitch of the day might have been his eighth and final offering to Machado. Typically, hitters stay in the box for only five pitches during live BP. But Machado clearly wanted to finish his at-bat. He fouled off a couple pitches and looked at a few balls, too.

With the (totally hypothetical) count at 3-2, Gore dropped in a backdoor breaking ball at the knees, catching Machado off-guard. Without an umpire, it can't technically be strike three. But it was a filthy pitch, nonetheless.

Thus far, Gore's stuff has played nicely against big league competition. But he was quick to downplay that.

"It's been good," Gore said. "It's early for the hitters, too. So it's really about having someone in the box for us. And for them, it's about seeing arms. Get their timing right, get our timing right."

Gore has an outside shot at a rotation spot this spring, but he's probably destined to start the season in the Minors. Still, many people in the organization feel as though he'll make an impact -- and soon.

A year ago, Tatis was in the same position -- as the Padres' 20-year-old top prospect trying to break camp with the team. What did Tatis think after facing Gore for the first time this spring?

"Pretty nasty," Tatis said. "He's got good stuff. Hopefully, he can keep it that way and help the team win."

Tatis, like Padres fans everywhere, is excited about the young talent in camp this spring. Prospects such as Gore, Luis Patiño, Taylor Trammell and Luis Campusano could soon join such youngsters as Tatis and Chris Paddack in the big leagues. That's what the Padres have been waiting for, after all.

"It feels great, man, being around all these guys," Tatis said. "It makes us better, being around that kind of friendly competition every single day where everybody's pushing each other. When we get out there, and we're all playing on the same team at the same level, it's going to be fun to watch."

Quantrill gets the opener
Right-hander Cal Quantrill will start the Padres' Cactus League opener against the Mariners on Saturday, looking to make a strong first impression in his quest for a roster spot. He's tentatively slated to throw two innings.

Quantrill is vying for one of two available rotation slots, though he's currently behind favorites Zach Davies and Joey Lucchesi. He could also make the roster as a long man out of the bullpen.

"It means that the Padres are in a good spot, the fact that we're talking about real battles for spots in the rotation, in the ’pen," Quantrill said. "I'm excited about it.”

Noteworthy
• Right-hander Michel Baez is also slated to pitch on Saturday, though Padres manager Jayce Tingler wouldn't set an expectation for innings or pitches. The game is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. PT at the Peoria Sports Complex.

• It's unclear whether the Padres will carry a platoon complement for their lefty-hitting center fielder, whoever that may be. Trent Grisham and Franchy Cordero are currently vying for that job, and their performance against lefties this spring might ultimately determine whether the Padres keep an extra righty-hitting outfielder.

"That'll be one of the questions of Spring Training for us," general manager A.J. Preller said.

• Righty reliever Chase Johnson is day to day with a nagging hamstring injury, Tingler said. Johnson posted a 4.69 ERA in the Giants’ system last season and is an extreme long shot for a spot in the Padres’ bullpen.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.