Bogaerts fast out of the chute with Padres

Shortstop has 3 hits in his SD debut in season-opening loss

March 31st, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres staged a party in the East Village on Thursday night, welcoming perhaps the most talented roster in franchise history into action for the 2023 season.

Fans showed up in droves, hours before first pitch, even amid a rare Opening Day rainstorm. Jake Peavy was on hand to throw out that ceremonial first pitch, and a sold-out Petco Park was packed well before he did so. The noise reached a crescendo when was introduced, followed shortly by . Two players locked up in San Diego for the next 11 seasons. Two players whose very presence signifies the Padres’ championship aspirations in 2023.

The Rockies, winners of 68 games last season and widely projected to finish in the National League West cellar, weren’t supposed to spoil a party like that. But, then, what followed was perhaps a dose of reality.

The expectations are as high as they've ever been in San Diego. Rightly so. That doesn't mean any of the Padres' objectives are going to come easy.

The Rockies – and a bit of rain – spoiled the party on Thursday, as the Padres dropped their opener, 7-2.

“A lot of expectations here,” Bogaerts said afterward. “All for it. Ready for it. Today wasn’t the best game we played, but tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll definitely bounce back.”

C.J. Cron did the damage for the Rockies, going 4-for-5 with a pair of homers and five RBIs. His fifth-inning three-run homer put Colorado on top for good. A Padres bullpen that is missing several key arms due to injuries came undone.

“Home opener, you want to make a great first impression,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “So it’s disappointing. Everybody wanted to win the game tonight. At the end of the day, it is only one. But it would’ve been nice to take the opener.”

Result aside, Bogaerts turned in one of the better Padres debuts in franchise history. He doubled in the first inning and did so again in the fourth. He tacked on a single in the sixth, becoming the first player since Tadahito Iguchi in 2008 to record three hits in his Padres debut. 

In the eighth, Bogaerts executed a flawless relay throw after a Cron double to nail Kris Bryant at the plate. The Padres inked Bogaerts to an 11-year contract in December, believing he could be an anchor at shortstop and in the middle of their lineup. One day into that experiment, he looks the part.

“We signed him for a reason,” Melvin said. “He can do multiple things – runs the bases well, too. He got off to a good start, but obviously we didn’t get a win.”

Bogaerts’ arrival prompted quite a reshuffling of the Padres’ defensive structure. moved from shortstop to second. Meanwhile, s transition to right field prompted  to switch from right to left.

Given their extensive track records, the Padres trust Soto and Kim to fit nicely at their new positions. Eventually. But perhaps the ease of those transitions has been overlooked.

Kim booted a grounder to his right to open the top of the third inning. (It caused no damage on the scoreboard, but it did force to throw a few extra pitches when his pitch count was already running high.)

In the sixth, Bryant plated a run with a fly-ball single to left – a long run for Soto, but a play he could’ve potentially made with a better route, or jump, or perhaps even with a bit more time in left field to acclimate to the different angles and trajectories.

Bryant’s single gave the Rockies a 5-2 lead. The Padres put two men aboard in the bottom half, when launched a fly ball deep into the San Diego night, prompting one last roar from the Petco Park faithful. Center fielder Yonathan Daza hauled it in at the warning track.

“Carp’s ball goes out, it’s a different ballgame,” Bogaerts said.

For all intents and purposes, that was the end of the party. Making his Padres debut, allowed back-to-back homers to Cron and Elehueuris Montero in the seventh, the first two hitters he faced. The Padres didn’t threaten after that.

“Obviously not the end result that we wanted, but tomorrow’s a new day,” Bogaerts said. “Season just got started.”

Inauspiciously enough. But for all the lofty goals the Padres set for themselves in 2023, 162-0 was never one of them.