Notes: 'Zero concerns' about Pham's readiness

July 5th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Jayce Tingler has been regularly in touch with left fielder , the lone Padres player to test positive for the coronavirus at the start of camp. The two talk baseball -- because no one is more eager to see Pham on the field than Pham himself. But that's far from Tingler’s basic message to Pham (who gave the team permission to divulge his diagnosis).

"Health, first and foremost," said Tingler. "Right now, he's still feeling well, not showing any symptoms, which is great. My message to him has been -- and it's honestly how I feel -- I cannot wait, and we cannot wait to get him back in this clubhouse. His everything -- who he is as a person, his leadership, his passion, his drive, his love for the game. We don't know when that's going to be, but that's what we're all looking forward to."

In order to return to play, players who have tested positive must pass a series of protocols laid out by the league. Notably, players must test negative twice outside of a 24-hour span, and they must exhibit no further symptoms.

Pham is doing his best to stay busy and active. On Saturday night, he posted video of himself on his Instagram story, working out at his home. He went through some light lifting next to his pool table and hand-eye drills featuring a plastic bat and golf-sized plastic balls.

Perhaps that's why Tingler is not worried about how quickly Pham might be able to ramp up once he's healthy.

"If I have 100 concerns a day, I guess I have zero concerns that Tommy Pham will be ready to play when he comes back," Tingler said. "... Knowing him and the way he works, zero concerns."

Tingler added that Pham's right elbow is back to full strength after he dealt with the lingering effects of a UCL strain in Spring Training. Pham was on track to be the team's regular left fielder.

Five-man rotation expected

The Padres aren't expecting to change their rotation plans, even with rosters set to expand to 30 players for the first two weeks of the season. Tingler plans to open the year with a five-man staff, a preference designed to get his front-line weapons the ball as often as possible in a shortened season.

Tingler did add a caveat: He's hoping to build 12 pitchers into potential starters from among the group of players in camp. Given the uncertainty surrounding players who might miss time due to the coronavirus, the Padres are eyeing rotation depth.

The current projected starting five is: Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Garrett Richards, Zach Davies and Joey Lucchesi. Cal Quantrill is practically a roster lock as a swing-man, too.

High-level prospects MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño and Ronald Bolaños and veteran Jerad Eickhoff will provide some of that depth. It's unclear whether low-level prospects Joey Cantillo and Ryan Weathers will round out that 12-man group, or if the Padres might look to stretch relief options like Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez into a starter's workload.

Catching situation unclear

Tingler was noncommittal about the possibility of carrying three catchers on the Opening Day 30-man roster. But he said the Padres are doing their best to give those catchers time with all of their pitchers.

"We're trying to rotate those guys, build them up, keep them fresh," Tingler said. "We want them catching as many different pitchers as possible, doing as best as we can of not letting them repeat the same pitcher. We're trying to stay as adaptable as we can. We haven't even gotten into the discussions on the roster breakdowns yet."

If the Padres were to choose to keep three catchers, Luis Torrens would almost certainly be the beneficiary. That decision might be based partly on whether the Padres opt to use Francisco Mejía as designated hitter. (Sources indicated he's looked sharp at the plate during the team's first two intrasquad games, which have been closed to the media, a promising sign after he slumped to an 0-for-15 Spring Training.)

If the Padres were to carry three catchers, that would leave prospect Luis Campusano as an expected member of the team's taxi squad, which must contain at least one catcher.