PEORIA, Ariz. -- In more ways than one, this spring has begun to resemble 2013 for Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin. If the rest of the season continues that way, San Diego's newly minted Opening Day starter could surprise a few people.Chacin, who signed a one-year deal with the Padres during
PEORIA, Ariz. -- In more ways than one, this spring has begun to resemble 2013 for Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin. If the rest of the season continues that way, San Diego's newly minted Opening Day starter could surprise a few people.
Chacin, who signed a one-year deal with the Padres during the offseason, will get the ball for Monday's season opener in Los Angeles. It will mark the second Opening Day start of Chacin's career and his first since 2013 with the Rockies.
His opponent: the Dodgers and three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.
"It's definitely more motivation," Chacin said. "He is, for a lot of guys, the best pitcher in baseball. And to go against him, it really gives you motivation to throw well and go inning-by-inning with him. Hopefully I can match him and beat him."
Like it did in 2013, Chacin's season began with a stint at the World Baseball Classic. He was impressive for Team Venezuela and returned to Padres camp in line for the Opening Day nod.
That much was confirmed by Padres manager Andy Green on Tuesday. Now, it's Chacin's goal to replicate his success from '13, when he posted a 3.47 ERA while making 18 of his 31 starts at hitter-friendly Coors Field. The right-hander finished that season with a 5.8 WAR and a career-best 1.26 WHIP.
"Also, I want to reach 200 innings," Chacin added, noting that he came 2 2/3 shy in 2013. "That's kind of my main goal. I almost did it that year. I'm really healthy this year, so I think this is the year I can go for 200."
Of course, that was four seasons ago. In the three years since, Chacin -- limited by inconsistency and a 2014 shoulder injury -- made just 37 starts and posted a 4.81 ERA.
The Padres feel he's in line for a bounceback campaign, and they were encouraged by his strong finish to the 2016 season. Green isn't one to make much out of an Opening Day start, but he said he feels as though it's within Chacin's makeup to handle the added pressure.
"He's done it before," Green said. "This isn't new to him. He's pitched in a big atmosphere already this year in the WBC and threw the ball very well there. I think he's the type of guy that doesn't rattle at all. His stuff can play effectively all through the season."
Chacin posted a 4.81 ERA in 34 appearances last season between the Braves and the Angels. He owns a 3.86 ERA with 10 strikeouts over 9 1/3 innings in the Cactus League and will conclude his spring slate with a start against the White Sox Wednesday.
Then, Chacin will begin preparing himself for another Opening Day start. Again, it's a situation in which he wouldn't mind harnessing his 2013 self. In that '13 opener in Milwaukee, Chacin allowed one run on three hits over 6 2/3.
"I was excited, and I was all pumped up, but at the same time I was thinking, 'Just make my pitches,'" Chacin said. "It really was a good game that day. I'm just trying to repeat the same thing I did that day. It's always exciting on Opening Day, you see all the fans before the game. ... You have to go pitch-by-pitch, hitter-by-hitter, give your team a chance to win a game."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.