Padres set their 26-man Opening Day roster
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres formally announced their Opening Day roster on Thursday morning, with these 26 set to suit up against Arizona:
Catcher (2): Victor Caratini, Luis Campusano
An injury to Austin Nola erased any lingering questions about the Padres' catching picture. Nola was slated to serve as the team's starter. Instead, he opened the season on the injured list as he works his way back from a fractured left middle finger.
Caratini, who arrived in the trade with the Cubs that also netted Opening Day pitcher Yu Darvish, will slide into that starting role. He was slated to serve as Darvish's personal catcher, anyway, but now seems destined for a bigger role. The rookie Campusano will serve as Caratini's backup after a strong spring in which he posted a slash line of .279/.373/.395. It's unclear how the Padres might split playing time until Nola returns.
Infield (4): Eric Hosmer, Jake Cronenworth, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado
No surprises here. The Padres’ infield was probably the best in baseball last season, and all four starters return in 2021. It's worth wondering how often Hosmer and Cronenworth might sit against left-handed pitching this season, but they both were in the starting lineup Thursday against Arizona's Madison Bumgarner.
Outfield (3): Wil Myers, Tommy Pham, Jurickson Profar
Trent Grisham, who suffered a left-hamstring strain in mid-March, is eligible to come off the injured list on April 8. The Padres remain optimistic he'll be activated then -- or very shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, there are questions regarding who slots in for Grisham in center field. Myers -- unlike in years past -- was never an option there. During Spring Training, both Pham and Profar were serviceable as center fielders. Presumably, one of those two will start in center, with the other in left. Pham got the nod in center on Opening Day.
Utility (3): Ha-Seong Kim, Jorge Mateo, Tucupita Marcano
Here's where things get interesting. Mateo and Marcano made the team, meaning that outfielder Brian O'Grady will begin the year at the Padres' alternate training site in Peoria, Ariz. Marcano's story is a remarkable one -- even if it seems likely he gives way once Grisham returns.
Once a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, the 21-year-old Marcano just wouldn't stop hitting. He started camp as merely a fun story. Then he began seriously turning heads. The Padres made a point to give Marcano at-bats against the toughest pitchers they faced. He just kept raking. Marcano, the team's No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, finished the spring with a .405/.479/.619 slash line.
The lone left-handed hitter on the Padres' bench, Marcano can play all over the infield and both outfield spots. Kim, meanwhile, is the primary backup at second, short and third. Mateo will serve as an elite pinch-running weapon -- and might get some opportunity at the plate, too, after an excellent spring: .316/.414/.456.
Rotation (5): Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Chris Paddack, Adrian Morejon
Manager Jayce Tingler hasn't formally set his rotation beyond Snell and Darvish -- but Musgrove, Paddack and Morejon were lined up behind those two for the last four trips through the Cactus League rotation.
Morejon earned a rotation place with his excellent performance this spring, in which he posted a 3.21 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 14 innings. He fills the spot vacated by Dinelson Lamet, who opened the season on the injured list.
The Padres are building Lamet up slowly following the elbow injury that sidelined him last postseason. He made two starts at the end of camp in which he didn't exceed the 30-pitch mark.
It's unclear when Lamet will make his return. (Perhaps late April or early May, based on his current trajectory.) But when he does, it might force the Padres to reckon with the struggles of Paddack, who posted a 10.64 ERA across five outings this spring. Either Paddack or Morejon would be the odd man out. Based on spring performance, it might be Paddack.
Bullpen (9): Emilio Pagán, Drew Pomeranz , Mark Melancon, Keone Kela, Tim Hill, Craig Stammen, Ryan Weathers, Nabil Crismatt, Taylor Williams
The Padres have yet to name a closer. But in Pagán, Pomeranz, Melancon and Kela, they have four pitchers they feel would be capable of handling that role.
Crismatt and Williams won the final two places in the 'pen. Those spots became available after a disheartening series of injuries. Austin Adams (right elbow), Pierce Johnson (groin strain), Dan Altavilla (calf strain), Matt Strahm (right knee surgery), Javy Guerra (right UCL sprain) and José Castillo (Tommy John surgery) will all open the season on the injured list. Among that group, Johnson's return seems most imminent. He could be back as soon as April 8.
As for Weathers -- one of the most intriguing inclusions on the Opening Day roster -- his role has not yet been announced. He might do a bit of everything. The 21-year-old southpaw is a crucial piece in a bullpen that's short on lefties and long men. Weathers is capable of pitching in both short and long relief. It's entirely possible that when San Diego plays 17 games across 17 days in mid-April, Weathers gets a start or two.