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Padres' Opening Day roster full of surprises

@AJCassavell
March 28, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- From top to bottom, the Padres' Opening Day roster is chock full of surprises in 2019. Some -- like the promotion of San Diego's No. 1 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. -- qualify as momentous decisions. Some -- like the last-minute addition of outfielder Socrates Brito -- will

PEORIA, Ariz. -- From top to bottom, the Padres' Opening Day roster is chock full of surprises in 2019.

Some -- like the promotion of San Diego's No. 1 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. -- qualify as momentous decisions. Some -- like the last-minute addition of outfielder Socrates Brito -- will fly under the radar.

Still, it's safe to say the Padres are entering win-now mode. They signed Manny Machado in February, then promoted a handful of very highly touted prospects ahead of Thursday's opener against the Giants.

Here's the 25-man roster they'll enter the season with.

Catcher (2): Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejia

Mejia hit his way onto the roster with an excellent spring, beating out veteran Chris Stewart for the backup job. Hedges still has the starting role locked up, but the Padres wouldn't have called up Mejia if they didn't plan on playing him at least somewhat regularly. Don't expect much of a platoon -- Hedges has reverse splits, and Mejia is a switch-hitter who hits much better from the right side. It'll be a day-to-day decision for manager Andy Green.

First base (1): Eric Hosmer

Hosmer is eyeing a bounceback season after struggling in year one in San Diego. He'll need to cut down on his ground-ball rate to do so, but the veteran first baseman clearly feels more comfortable in year two.

Second base (1): Ian Kinsler

Kinsler was arguably the Padres' best hitter this spring, posting a 1.095 OPS while working some excellent at-bats from the leadoff spot. Prospect Luis Urias, meanwhile, was a surprise omission from the roster. He was expected to start at shortstop, then battle for playing time with Kinsler once Tatis arrived. But Urias -- who dealt with a hamstring injury this offseason -- struggled in camp and will start the year at Triple-A El Paso. If he hits like he did last season, Kinsler will need to be much better than his 2018 numbers to keep his starting role.

Third base (1): Manny Machado

On Sunday, the day Green was set to announce his Opening Day starter, the Padres skipper arrived at his media session and began with: "On Opening Day, we're going to start ..." He paused for dramatic effect and continued: "Manny Machado at third base." Duh. For all the surprises on the roster, this was decidedly not one of them.

Shortstop (1): Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis' presence is arguably the most surprising of any decision the Padres made. But it's easy to see why he was included. After a brilliant winter ball campaign with Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Winter League, Tatis was the Padres' best shortstop in Spring Training. The Padres rewarded him for it.

Utility (1): Greg Garcia

Hosmer and Machado figure to have the corners anchored for most of the season. The lefty-hitting Garcia will have the job of spelling Tatis and Kinsler, two righty hitters, against tough righties. Fellow utility man Jose Pirela was optioned to Triple-A, likely the result of the Padres' decision to claim Brito.

Outfield (6): Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero, Socrates Brito

The Padres' five outfield spots seemed settled for most of the spring. Padres general manager A.J. Preller threw a wrench into that notion by claiming Brito. Barring a trade, it now seems likely San Diego will option an outfielder ahead of Saturday's game -- when they'll need to promote their No. 5 starter.

Starting pitcher (4): Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, Chris Paddack, Matt Strahm

The Padres entered camp with a wide-open rotation race this spring. Four pitchers rose to the occasion, and all four made the roster. The fifth spot, meanwhile, is anyone's guess. Logan Allen, Cal Quantrill and Nick Margevicius are options. All three are non-roster players, meaning there's no minimum amount of time they'd need to spend in the Minor Leagues before a callup. That makes all three eligible to pitch Saturday. So, too, is long-man Robbie Erlin. Bryan Mitchell, meanwhile, was designated for assignment.

Relief pitcher (8): Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, Adam Warren, Aaron Loup, Robert Stock, Phil Maton, Robbie Erlin, Trey Wingenter

This season, the Padres will monitor the workloads of Paddack, Strahm and potentially their fifth starter as well. That makes it likely they spend most of the year with an eight-man bullpen. Expect Yates, Stammen and Stock to garner high-leverage innings early. Loup will be the 'pen's go-to lefty.

Here's the roster in full, including the seven players who will open the season on the injured list:

CATCHERS
Austin Hedges
Francisco Mejia

INFIELDERS
Eric Hosmer
Ian Kinsler
Manny Machado
Fernando Tatis Jr.
Greg Garcia

OUTFIELDERS
Wil Myers
Hunter Renfroe
Franmil Reyes
Manuel Margot
Franchy Cordero

STARTING PITCHERS
Joey Lucchesi
Eric Lauer
Chris Paddack
Matt Strahm

RELIEF PITCHERS
Kirby Yates
Craig Stammen
Adam Warren
Aaron Loup
Robert Stock
Phil Maton
Robbie Erlin
Trey Wingenter

INJURED LIST
RHP Garrett Richards
RHP Dinelson Lamet
RHP Miguel Diaz
RHP Jacob Nix
RHP Brett Kennedy
LHP Jose Castillo
OF Travis Jankowski

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.