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Green has tough decisions for Opening Day roster

Padres' past final cuts haven't been quite so difficult
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The players' names from the following story have been redacted to protect the Major League-challenged.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The players' names from the following story have been redacted to protect the Major League-challenged.

Some years back, when I was covering the Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune, manager Bud Black decided to announce his Opening Day roster during the final days of Spring Training.

The assembled media knew most of the names on the list. They were givens if for no other reason than a lack of competition. But as Black came down to the final two names on the list, eyebrows were raised in response.

"Why?" Black was asked.   

"Why not?" the manager responded.   

There was a time -- and not that long ago -- that the final names on the Padres' annual Opening Day roster were more suspects than prospects. There were times that the Padres filled those slots with a waiver claim or a Rule 5 claim. Sometimes, the last spot went to a journeyman who had had an exceptional spring … John Roskos immediately comes to mind.   

Seldom were the times when the last players cut by the Padres were legitimate Major Leaguers.   

Fast forward to the spring of 2018.

In a matter of weeks, Padres manager Andy Green is going to call at least one, and possibly more, Major League-caliber players into his office and tell them they didn't make the Padres' final cut.

In my mind, this is a clear sign of the direction the Padres are headed. And the final decisions figure to only get tougher in future years as some talented Padres prospects mature.

Green is on record saying it is highly unlikely that the Padres will head into the regular season with both of their left-handed-hitting second basemen -- Carlos Asuaje and Cory Spangenberg. On Sunday, Green made the same statement about his two left-handed-hitting outfielders, Franchy Cordero and Travis Jankowski.

Which means two of those four players will likely be opening the season at Triple-A El Paso.

Honestly, I can't remember the last time the Padres cut two players of that caliber while trimming to the Opening Day roster.

And who knows? One of those could make the final cut as a left-handed bat off the bench, but all four surely won't. Recently, I figured the last spot on the roster could come down to Spangenberg or Jankowski, whose offensive games are comparable.

Honestly, few Padres managers have faced the dilemma facing Green.  

The last position player on the Padres' bench will have Major League skills. So will players at Triple-A El Paso who missed the final cut. And the likes of Luis Urías and Fernando Tatis Jr. are headed in the Padres' direction.

There is even a chance that some other team could claim a late Padres cut to fill out their Opening Day roster.

OK, the Padres aren't there yet. The pitching staff has yet to shake itself out.

But the Padres' ranks of position players is certainly deeper than it has been in years.

Just ask Asuaje, Spangenberg, Cordero and Jankowski.

San Diego Padres