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Paddack makes easy work of Indians in debut

Myers goes deep; Prospect Olivares continues to impress
@AJCassavell
February 26, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Chris Paddack has placed plenty of emphasis on his curveball this spring. It’s easy to see why. If Paddack can develop a third pitch, his ceiling seems limitless. The 24-year-old right-hander is coming off one of the best rookie seasons in Padres history, and he did it

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Chris Paddack has placed plenty of emphasis on his curveball this spring. It’s easy to see why. If Paddack can develop a third pitch, his ceiling seems limitless. The 24-year-old right-hander is coming off one of the best rookie seasons in Padres history, and he did it mostly with two pitches.

But for all the attention Paddack has given to his curveball, he still knows what got him here: one of the filthiest changeups in the sport.

"When you're learning a new pitch, you can sometimes forget about your bread and butter," Paddack said. "I always finish with my [changeup] whether it's a bullpen or throwing program -- just to make sure I always have that in the bag."

Yup, it's still in the bag. Paddack's brilliant change was on full display Wednesday afternoon in the Padres' 8-0 Cactus League win over the Indians at Peoria Stadium. Making his first start of the spring, Paddack worked two scoreless innings, striking out three while allowing just one hit.

That lone hit came with Paddack's first pitch of the second inning -- a laser double into the left-field corner by Franmil Reyes. Paddack and Reyes were close in San Diego last season before Reyes was dealt to Cleveland before the Trade Deadline.

"He ambushed me," Paddack said with a smile. "I miss that guy."

The end result of Reyes' double? Paddack merely got some extra work from the stretch. He retired the next three hitters, and his afternoon was done.

Paddack arrived at the ballpark Wednesday wearing a suit, a tie and a black cowboy hat. Never mind that it was merely his first start of Spring Training. Paddack's pre-start intensity level only has one setting.

"Warming up today, my stomach felt like it was at my ankles -- butterflies, nerves," Paddack said. "It was all-around great."

This spring Paddack has set his sights on an Opening Day start, though he's gotten less vocal about the prospect since the start of camp. If Paddack keeps this up, it'd be hard to envision anyone else winning that job.

Last season, Paddack posted a 3.33 ERA with a sub-1 WHIP and 153 strikeouts in 140 2/3 innings. His 2.7 Wins Above Replacement ranked third all time among all Padres rookie starters.

Paddack, of course, posted those numbers while having his workload strictly limited. This year, manager Jayce Tingler indicated that the Padres would treat Paddack "responsibly." But for the most part, the reins are off.

"He's internally driven to be great," Tingler added.

Part of that drive has pushed Paddack to hone his curve, which he used a couple times on Wednesday. It's tighter, and the velocity has ticked into the high 70s. Ideally, Paddack says, he'll be able to drop a curveball in practically any count.

But make no mistake: Paddack's "bread and butter" putaway weapon is still his changeup. And he made that very clear again on Wednesday.

"I was very pleased with that," Paddack said. "Especially with how hard I've been working on my curveball, that's one thing I'm making sure I don't lose."

Myers goes oppo

Lost amid the Wil Myers trade speculation this winter was one key fact: If Myers is swinging the bat like he's capable, he's still a very useful piece for the Padres.

Myers went 2-for-3 on Wednesday, including an opposite-field home run off former teammate Phil Maton in the bottom of the sixth. It was vintage Myers -- in the sense that, when he’s at his best, he's doing precisely that.

"We've seen him drive the ball, hit the ball hard the other way," Tingler said. "That was a good way for him to finish up his day."

Right now, Myers seems ticketed for a timeshare in right field, alongside one of the Padres’ left-handed hitters. But he could earn more regular playing time by hitting right-handed pitching this spring.

Noteworthy

• Luis Perdomo pitched two scoreless innings of relief, striking out three while allowing one hit and one walk. Tingler noted that Perdomo would likely be stretched into a swingman role with the potential to start if necessary.

"He's pounding the zone with really good sink, mixing in his secondary [pitches] well," Tingler said. "Probably most importantly, he's working quick, and it's fun to play defense behind that."

• Fellow right-handers Pierce Johnson and Javy Guerra also pitched scoreless ball in relief -- an inning apiece. Johnson is projected for a middle-innings role in the Padres 'pen, while Guerra is on the fringe of the competition. He's out of options, meaning the Padres can't send him to the Minors without first placing him on waivers.

• Outfield prospect Edward Olivares launched a solo homer in the top of the seventh inning, then drew a walk in the eighth. On Tuesday, Olivares ended the Padres’ victory over the A’s with a diving catch in right field. Tingler noted that Olivares "has been very impressive early."

Up next

Lefty prospect Adrian Morejon is slated for his spring debut on Thursday when the Padres travel to Tempe Diablo Stadium to face the Angels at 12:10 p.m. PT. Morejon broke into the big leagues as a reliever last season, but he's being stretched back into a starter's role this spring. Righty reliever Emilio Pagán is also set for his debut. Pagán arrived in San Diego earlier this month in the deal that sent Manuel Margot to Tampa Bay.

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