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Reyes looking forward to reunion with Vlad Jr.

Toronto road trip will be a homecoming for Quantrill
@AJCassavell
May 22, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres head to Toronto this weekend, and it seems unlikely that Fernando Tatis Jr. will be deemed healthy and able to return from the left hamstring strain that sidelined him late last month. That means no showdown between Tatis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- the sport's

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres head to Toronto this weekend, and it seems unlikely that Fernando Tatis Jr. will be deemed healthy and able to return from the left hamstring strain that sidelined him late last month. That means no showdown between Tatis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- the sport's No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

Regardless, the weekend still presents an exciting matchup of two of the game's most exciting young sluggers -- and two sluggers with a shared history. Franmil Reyes, the Padres' 23-year-old outfielder who's off to a torrid start with 15 homers, knows Guerrero well.

"We're very, very close," Reyes said before the Padres' 5-2 win over the D-backs on Wednesday afternoon. "We grew up together."

Box score

Indeed, the two grew up in the town of Palenque in the Dominican Republic. Reyes was a few years older, though his younger brother is the same age as Guerrero.

Both played for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, and they played softball together during offseasons when they were younger. Earlier this week, Reyes even inquired as to whether Vlad Jr.’s grandmother would be in town, because he didn’t like the options for Dominican food in Canada. (She will be.)

“Tell your grandma, don’t forget about me,” Reyes joked.

Guerrero, MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, got off to a shaky start with Toronto. But he's clearly found a groove since then, hitting .333/.415/.694 over the past two weeks.

Reyes, too, started his big league career slowly. He was promoted last May and sent down twice before he hit his stride in the second half. Reyes hasn't stopped raking since.

"When he was struggling, I didn't want to send him a text because I knew I'd see him in person," Reyes said. "I was going to give him the advice: 'Look how I started, look how I am right now. Don't worry about it.' Look, I haven't even talked to him, and he’s already got it. I'm looking forward to seeing him."

Growing up in Palenque, Reyes naturally watched Vladimir Guerrero Sr. as often as he could. Each offseason, the professionals in town staged a game on a local field, and Reyes made certain to be in attendance. He says he hopes to model his career after Guerrero Sr., both on and off the field.

"He was my favorite player, always my favorite guy to watch," Reyes said. "Everything he did for our town and the way he did things for the town, with facilities and things like that, and giving baseball stuff for the guys who need it -- that's my goal. That's what I want to do."

Reyes, of course, has a front row seat to Tatis' excellence as well. Their connection dates to 2014 when Tatis Sr. served as bench coach for Escogido in Reyes' first season with the club.

Tatis' breakout didn't surprise Reyes one bit. The 20-year-old shortstop was hitting .300 with a .910 OPS before his injury. He's taking part in extended spring camp games at the Padres' complex in Peoria, Ariz. The team hasn't offered a timetable for Tatis' return.

Whenever Tatis is back, he and Guerrero will be two of the game's most exciting young players. In Reyes' eyes, the future of baseball clearly is in good hands.

"I can't describe how good they are," he said. "And it's crazy. ... They're so young."

Quantrill's Canada connection

Padres right-hander Cal Quantrill gets his own reunion this weekend in Toronto. The 24-year-old rookie is an Ontario native, and his father, Paul, spent six seasons with the Blue Jays from 1996-2001.

"I grew up in that home clubhouse," said Quantrill, who is slated to start on Saturday in the second game of a three-game set.

Quantrill recalled being at Rogers Centre for every home game once school was out each summer. Because the Quantrills lived an hour away, Paul and Cal often stayed over at the hotel adjacent to the ballpark. Cal says the staff there knew him so well, they'd let him wander the corridors and hang out in the kitchen.

Quantrill has pitched on the Rogers Centre mound a couple times for Baseball Canada. Now, he'll get to do so as a big leaguer.

It's an important start, too. In three big league outings, Quantrill owns a 5.40 ERA, and he's fighting to keep his place in the rotation.

"To me, yeah there's a lot going on around the games, maybe I'm at home, maybe I'm seeing friends and family," Quantrill said. "But once the game starts, it's about the game. To me, it's not mixed together. Maybe it just makes for more fun of a road trip."

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