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Injuries to key players take toll on Padres in '13

SAN DIEGO -- There's no telling what the Padres might have been capable of this season had all of their position players been healthy for prolonged stretches of the season.

Or, well, even once.

Over the course their 162-game season, the Padres didn't once have their projected starting lineup on the field at the same time.

To be sure, the Padres had their warts in 2013 -- the pitching wasn't always good, it was difficult to score runs and there was that 10-game losing skid -- but if you're looking for one prevailing factor that caused them so much distress, it was injuries.

"I'm not sure that any team could withstand the number of injuries that we've had to key players," Padres manager Bud Black said. "You're talking many of your most productive offensive players -- that's tough to overcome.

"And if you add the time missed by Yonder [Alonso], Jedd [Gyorko] and [Yasmani] Grandal, then you're talking about many of your best players."

It certainly didn't help that pitchers Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez couldn't return to 2012 form or that All-Star shortstop Everth Cabrera missed the final 50 games while serving a suspension for his violation of baseball's drug policy.

A look at a few of the Padres injury woes in 2013:

• Center fielder Cameron Maybin played in 14 games, missing time with a knee and wrist injury. He had surgery in September to clean up loose particles and cartilage in his right wrist.

• Left fielder Carlos Quentin appeared in 82 games before heading to the disabled list and later surgery on his right knee, the third surgery he has had on the knee he's had since joining the team on Dec. 31, 2011.

• Rookie second baseman Gyorko showed impressive power, though his season was interrupted by a 30-game stint on the disabled list for a strained groin. First baseman Alonso appeared in only 95 games because of a broken bone in his right hand.

• The Padres didn't have their projected Opening Day catcher, Grandal, for the first 50 games because of his suspension for elevated levels of testosterone. He then suffered a major knee injury in July and didn't play after July 6.

• Pitcher Jason Marquis needed Tommy John surgery and two other pitchers who had similar surgeries in 2012 -- Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland -- were unable to pitch this season because their rehabilitation and recovery period fell on the long end of the 12-to-18-month spectrum.

Record: 76-86, tied for third place in the National League West

Defining moment: After a slow start (5-15 after 20 games), the Padres played better in May and June and got to 38-36 on June 21, leaving them 2 1/2 games back in the NL West. Soon after, the team embarked on a 10-game road trip to Miami, Boston and Washington. After winning the first game, the offense scuffled -- seven games of two or fewer runs -- as the team lost their next 10 games, falling to 40-50. They never recovered, though the Padres did play better in September.

What went right: Despite missing 30 games with a groin strain, Gyorko was a hit, as he surpassed 20-homer mark. He was also impressively defensively in his first Major League season. Cabrera had a big first half and was the team's lone All-Star. Closer Huston Street, after a rough start, got on a big roll and surpassed the 30-save plateau. Pitchers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross took big steps forward in their development. The same could be said for outfielder Will Venable, who surpassed 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

What went wrong: Again, it's injuries. Maybin, Quentin, Grandal and Alonso missed significant time. Chase Headley, coming off a monster 2012 season, particularly the last two months, scuffled for the first five months of the season. Two of the Padres' most reliable pitchers from 2012, Volquez (released) and Richard (injured), struggled. Losing Cabrera to a 50-game suspension hurt in a lot in a lot of ways -- offensively, his baserunning and defense.

Biggest surprise: Rookie pitcher Burch Smith and Robbie Erlin, after early struggles, went back to Triple-A and later came back better pitchers. Smith, a hard-throwing right-hander, and Erlin, a lefty who relies more on command, pitched well in September and figure to compete for jobs in the starting rotation next spring.

Hitter of the Year: For the first half, it was Cabrera, who was an offensive catalyst at the top of the order, disrupting defenses with his speed on the bases and with his defense. But after a slow start, Venable shined, becoming a 20-20 guy and playing strong defense. He improved a lot against left-handed pitching. Venable showed that at age 30, he might be nowhere near his ceiling, which is pretty rare for a player.

Pitcher of the Year: Close call, but for as good as Street was, Cashner really shined in 2013 and provided the team glimpses of big things to come. He reached double digits in wins and came close to tossing a perfect game against the Pirates in September. He showed he can not only miss bats with his mid-to-high 90s stuff, but he was better in terms of efficiency and developing his secondary pitches. He figures to anchor the starting rotation in 2014 and beyond.

Rookie of the Year: Has to be Gyorko. He started hot offensively then missed a month with a groin strain. He struggled initially after coming off the disabled list but started to rediscover his swing in the final month. He's one of only five rookie second basemen in Major League history to hit at least 20 home runs.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.

San Diego Padres, Andrew Cashner, Jedd Gyorko, Will Venable