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This Padres infield D likely best in club history

Club flashing gloves early; plus notes on Paddack, G. Reyes, Warren, Machado
April 13, 2019

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres. The Padres have had great defensive infielders before. Shortstops Ozzie Smith, Garry Templeton and Khalil Greene; third baseman Ken Caminiti; second baseman Roberto Alomar, and first basemen Wally Joyner and Adrian Gonzalez immediately come to mind.

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

The Padres have had great defensive infielders before. Shortstops Ozzie Smith, Garry Templeton and Khalil Greene; third baseman Ken Caminiti; second baseman Roberto Alomar, and first basemen Wally Joyner and Adrian Gonzalez immediately come to mind.

But I don’t think they’ve ever had an infield defense as good as the 2019 edition, particularly the left-side tandem of third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

Both have already made plays this season that rival the greatest plays ever by Padres at their position.

Machado’s play on Friday night in Arizona rivals the 1996 play by Caminiti -- where he made a diving stop to his right, then threw across the infield from the sitting position to get the runner at first -- as the greatest ever by a Padres third baseman.

The highlight video of Machado’s play is everywhere today. The pickup is quite a feat in itself. But as Machado charges to field the ball, his momentum carries him well into foul territory, from where throws across his body -- and across the infield -- a perfect strike to first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Incredible.

The greatest single play by a shortstop in Padres history remains the 1978 barehanded stop and throw made by Smith as he dived to his right. But Tatis is getting very close. He’s already made two plays this week -- one a flying catch of a line drive to his left -- that made the national highlight reel.

Machado and Tatis on the left side. Gold Glove Award winners Ian Kinsler and Hosmer on the right side, plus Luis Urías at both second and short. The Padres' defense has been phenomenal, which helps explain the club’s 10-5 start and the fact that Padres pitchers have allowed five or fewer hits in five of the season’s first 15 games.

Notes

• The Padres are 10-5 for only the second time in the past 20 seasons. The other time was 2015.

Gerardo Reyes retired the only two hitters he faced, one by a strikeout, on Friday night in his first appearances in the Majors, becoming the fourth pitcher in Padres history to get credit for the win in his debut. The others are Jeremy Fikac (2001), Dustin Hermanson (1995) and Larry Hardy (1974).

• Starter Chris Paddack has allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and six walks with 16 strikeouts over 14 innings in his first three Major League starts. That is a 1.29 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP.

• Reliever Adam Warren has apparently moved into the late-inning setup reliever rotation as a complement to Craig Stammen. He has succeeded in that role the past two nights, with three strikeouts in three perfect innings.

Kirby Yates is the first Padres closer with eight saves in the team’s first 15 games.

• Machado has two opposite-field homers in the past three games. They were the 18th and 19th opposite-field homers of his career.