SAN DIEGO -- Before every Sunday home game at Petco Park, the Padres take the field and are greeted by nine service members -- one at every defensive position. The players thank the service members, have a brief chat, sign a baseball and then it's game time.
That moment, now a staple of Military Appreciation Sunday in San Diego, is always a reverent one. But this Sunday afternoon was particularly special for the Manaea family.
Padres left-hander Sean Manaea started the series finale against the Dodgers. When he took the mound, he was greeted by his brother Dane, currently in the Navy as a hospital corpsman third class at nearby Camp Pendleton.
“The more I think about it and people talk about it, it doesn’t really happen often -- one brother that’s in the big leagues and one that’s in the military,” Sean said. “And for that [Marine] base to be out here, and [playing for] this organization, it’s very special. My mom, I just texted her, and she was crying. It’s a beautiful moment.”
It was only the second time Dane had seen his brother pitch in a big league game. He had caught one of Manaea’s starts for the A’s against the Angels last season. But Dane merely took that game in from the stands. This time, he was waiting for Sean on the mound when the pitcher emerged for the first inning.
The two met just in front of the Petco Park mound and hugged before engaging in a brief conversation. Sean even kept with tradition and signed a baseball. Then Dane jogged off the field and Sean began his regular warm-up.
“That moment was really cool,” Sean said.
Manager Bob Melvin echoed those exact words.
“Really cool, tugs at your heart a little bit,” Melvin said. “Especially with how well [the military] is supported here. … Not too far away in Camp Pendleton -- that’s going to be a nice resource for Sean, to have family around.”
Sean Manaea arrived in San Diego in a trade with Oakland on the weekend before the regular season. He'd gotten off to a fast start before allowing six earned runs over 4 1/3 innings Sunday in the series finale, a 10-2 loss to the Dodgers.