Padres recall Torrens as Mejía lands on IL
The Padres’ long-awaited catching shakeup arrived out of necessity ahead of Monday’s game against the Rangers. San Diego promoted Luis Torrens to the big league club, where he will take the place of Francisco Mejía, who was placed on the injured list with a left thumb contusion.
It's a like-for-like injury replacement. But make no mistake, it's also a job audition for the 24-year-old Torrens.
"He's Major League ready," said manager Jayce Tingler, who added that Torrens is expected to receive his first start on Tuesday. "He's solid behind the plate, his game-calling, receiving is fine. From the offensive point of view, we haven't had a lot of production from the catcher, for whatever reason. Torrens has a chance to be an upgrade with more offensive production, which we could certainly use right now."
As Tingler noted, the Padres' production at catcher this season has been overwhelmingly disappointing. Mejía and Austin Hedges entered Monday having combined for a .099/.158/.197 slash line, with a paltry -1 wRC+.
Hedges improved on those numbers in the Padres' 14-4 victory Monday night, when he homered, walked and scored two runs.
But the Padres have been weighing a Torrens callup for the past couple of weeks. Monday's decision to place Mejía on the IL made it a necessity.
Tingler sounded hopeful that Mejía might be able to return after the minimum 10-day stint. He also made it sound possible that the injury contributed to Mejía's slow start at the plate. Mejía was hitting just .079 with one home run in 16 games.
"Finally we just got to a point where we're going to get him his 10 days down," Tingler said. "We're going to be extra aggressive in his treatment and see if we can get him to 100 percent. Because playing at 80-85 percent, it just wasn't working."
If anything, the past few weeks have reinforced the notion that Luis Campusano is the team's catcher of the future. The Padres' No. 4 prospect, Campusano has been red-hot at the team's alternate site, according to several people clued in on the happenings at the University of San Diego. That includes some "loud home runs," according to one person familiar with the nightly results.
It's unclear whether Campusano would merit consideration for a callup this year. He's long been viewed as a potential 2021 arrival. The current struggles at catcher may or may not change that. But Campusano’s presence might impact how the Padres shop at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline. They still don't feel like they need a long-term fix behind the dish.
In the short term, it's Torrens who gets the first chance. He's taken quite the path to Monday's callup.
Torrens is not technically a prospect, because he spent the entire 2017 season struggling in the big leagues as a Rule 5 Draft pick. But he's made significant strides since then, batting .300 with an .873 OPS while backstopping Double-A Amarillo to a Texas League title last season.
Now, Torrens is back in the big leagues, and this time he actually has a chance to stick.
"He'll have opportunity to earn more playing time going forward," Tingler said. "We're going to be pretty open-minded on that."
Chris Paddack won't get to pitch in his native Texas after all.
The Padres right-hander had his next start pushed back one day, meaning he and Dinelson Lamet will still face the Rangers this week. But they'll do so on Wednesday and Thursday, when the series shifts back to Petco Park. The Padres still have not announced a starter for Tuesday's game.
The decision was designed to give Paddack and Lamet an extra day of rest, considering they've made every start on normal rest so far this season. Before 2020, Paddack had never made a start on four days' rest as a professional -- in large part because the Padres were easing him back from '17 Tommy John surgery.
Paddack struggled his last time out, allowing six runs over three innings against the Dodgers. After the game, he said he felt fresh pitching on four days' rest, but the Padres figured an extra day off couldn't hurt.
"The main thing is making sure Paddack gets back on track," Tingler said. "We expect him to be at full strength when we get back to San Diego."
The two likeliest options for Tuesday's start are right-hander Luis Patiño and left-hander Adrian Morejon. (Morejon is currently part of the team's taxi squad.) It's also possible that the Padres piggyback one on top of the other. If Patiño gets the ball, it will be the first career start for the 20-year-old prospect, ranked No. 28 overall by MLB Pipeline.
For the second straight day, Wil Myers was out of the starting lineup as he deals with lingering back tightness. But in some much needed positive injury news, the Padres don't expect Myers' injury to require an IL stint.
"If he can't go tonight, we have a good chance he'll go [Tuesday]," Tingler said.
Myers was off to a hot start this season, posting a .288/.366/.603 slash line with five homers through 21 games.