Padres ready to officially unveil rebuilt club to home crowd
LOS ANGELES -- Last Saturday, the Padres unveiled their revamped lineup in a dress rehearsal of sorts, an exhibition game at Petco Park against the Mexico City Red Devils.
But come Thursday, it's the real thing -- the home opener against the defending World Series champion Giants at 3:40 p.m. PT. A sold-out crowd awaits, as do soaring expectations for a team general manager A.J. Preller essentially rebuilt this winter.
San Diego manager Bud Black was asked Tuesday how some of Preller's acquisitions will fare this season in a ballpark that, generally, still favors pitchers despite recent fence modifications.
"I like Matt Kemp in any ballpark," Black said, smiling. "We have a lot of players who have hit well in our park. And that's a good thing. If you ask certain hitters how they hit [at Petco Park], they'll mention how well they have seen the ball [there]."
As for how the team's new hitters will take to Petco Park, if history is any indication, it very well could be a fairly easy transition.
Kemp has a career .322/.372/.495 line in 234 plate appearances in San Diego, with seven home runs, 14 doubles and 34 RBIs. Justin Upton has a .291/.359/.541 line in 192 plate appearances at Petco Park, with 11 doubles, 10 home runs and 19 RBIs. Clint Barmes is a career .280 in his new ballpark and has five home runs in 193 career plate appearances.
"I like hitting here," Kemp said of Petco Park.
As for the home opener, the Padres will officially unveil their new video board on Thursday, the largest of its kind in any National League park. Highlights of the pregame ceremony include a demonstration by the United States Navy parachute team, known as the Leap Frogs.
There will be a flyover by two Harriers from the VMA-311 Tomcats from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, from Yuma, Ariz.
UpDown Records recording artist Ashleigh Stone will sing the national anthem.
The Padres have yet to announce who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The team is encouraging fans to arrive early and to use public transportation. Padres Members will be granted access to the ballpark at noon. The general public will be allowed entry at 12:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 3 p.m. for the pregame ceremony.
For more information, see padres.com/transportation.