Manny Machado knows a thing or two about what it takes to sustain the grind of a Major League season.
The Padres third baseman has twice played 162 games -- and he played the full 60 in 2020. That's a point of pride for Machado -- who had notched five consecutive seasons of at least 155 games before last year's pandemic-shortened campaign.
With recent debate about Fernando Tatis Jr.'s playing style -- and whether the Padres’ star shortstop should tone things down in an effort to preserve himself -- it was time to for an expert to weigh in.
Machado's verdict: "No chance."
"We're two completely different players," Machado said. "I wish I had his speed. I wish I could do the things he did. But that's just not my game play.
"I can't tell him to stop diving, I can't tell him to stop sliding. Why would I tell him to not tag up on a fly ball to shortstop? No chance. That's who he is. I wish I could do that. But I can't."
Tatis has missed time this month because of various minor ailments -- including left shoulder discomfort that forced him to exit a game Tuesday while San Diego held its collective breath.
Tatis returned to the lineup two days later, but that didn’t quell the debate surrounding the Padres' $340 million man. Earlier this month, Tatis tagged and scored on a popup in the infield -- the type of electric play that has come to define his game. But he missed time that week, because he was banged up from his hard headfirst slide into home plate.
To that end, Machado says he believes Tatis is learning for himself. In his rookie 2019 season, Tatis spent two stints on the injured list. But he was available for the entirety of the 2020 campaign.
"From his first year to last year, he's gotten better with knowing himself, knowing his limits," Machado said. "The more he plays, he'll understand certain things. ... But he can't change his game play. He's got to be Fernando Tatis, and I think he's going to continue to be Fernando Tatis. That's why he's one of the most exciting players in baseball."
Gore's roster chances fizzle
MacKenzie Gore entered the spring with a serious chance to compete for a place at the back end of the Padres' rotation. But that push for a roster spot never quite materialized for the 22-year-old left-hander, MLB Pipeline's top-ranked pitching prospect. Gore allowed three runs across 1 1/3 relief innings on Sunday -- a three-run homer by former Padre Josh Naylor -- as his spring came to a disappointing conclusion during the Padres’ 3-3 tie against Cleveland at Goodyear Ballpark.
At times, Gore certainly showed glimpses of why he has been one of the sport's most highly touted prospects. His stuff is electric -- and it plays against big league opposition. But his control was shaky. He walked too many hitters, and he missed too many spots.
Still, the Padres are optimistic that Gore can get himself back on track with a return to normalcy in the Minor Leagues. His development, they've said, was seriously sidetracked by the pandemic.
"I just look at where he was last year to where he is now," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. "Whatever happens over the next week or two, I think he's made significant steps going forward, and as we all know, that's without a season last year. For him not to have a season -- he's still made strides."
Musgrove finishes strong
It would be hard to finish the spring much better than the way Joe Musgrove finished Sunday. The right-hander worked five no-hit innings and struck out six.
"That was the best he's put everything together," Tingler said. "He had all his pitches working, was really efficient. Really happy to see that today."
Musgrove revealed on Sunday that he dealt with a fracture in his left wrist late last season. As a result, the Padres played it safe with Musgrove at the plate this spring, even though Musgrove said the injury has fully healed.
The Padres finally turned him loose on Sunday, and Musgrove proceeded to record more hits (two) as a hitter than he allowed as a pitcher. He lined a double to center field in the third inning and then scored on Tatis’ ensuing double. In the fifth, he dropped down a bunt single.
"I'm a ballplayer, man," Musgrove said. "I can handle myself well at the plate. ... I'm glad I got the feel of swinging the bat and running the bases."