Padres Spring Training FAQ, things to know

February 18th, 2021

For the first time in a decade, the Padres enter Spring Training looking to build on a winning season. For the first time in much longer than that, they enter camp with a legitimate World Series buzz.

Needless to say, that's newfound territory at the Peoria Sports Complex. But the Padres insist that nothing really changes.

"There's going to be maybe more attention than we've had in the past, which is great,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. But we've got to eliminate that. We've got to master ourselves, and we've got to master our game, and we can't worry about the things on the outside.

"We've got enough talent in the room that we feel if we're preparing, we're concentrating, we're working hard -- if we can stay focused on playing our brand of baseball, we feel good about where the outcome could be."

With Padres Spring Training underway, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Given the pandemic, how is Spring Training going to be different this year?
It'll certainly be different, logistically. By now, the COVID-19 screening process has become a part of players' day-to-day lives during baseball season. There also won't be fans allowed at the team's workouts.

But aside from those obvious caveats (and the plentiful masks and social-distancing measures), the Padres expect Spring Training to take place as usual. Their drills and their pitching progressions should resemble any other season.

If there's one key difference, however, Tingler noted that the team plans to place extra emphasis on its depth, considering the jump from a 60-game season in 2020 to a 162-game slate in '21.

What are the key roster/position battles to watch?
The Padres return starters at all eight positions, and they've built a five-deep starting rotation, so most of the playing-time battles will come on the fringes.

The most intriguing race is in the bullpen, where 16 big league-caliber arms are expected to compete for eight or nine places. There should also be a fun battle for playing time at second base among Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim and Jurickson Profar.

On the bench, there's probably one place available, with catcher Luis Campusano and lefty-hitting outfielder Brian O'Grady the two favorites for that spot.

Who is the likely Opening Day starting pitcher?
This is, without question, the best Opening Day starter race in Padres history. In Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove and Chris Paddack, San Diego has four pitchers who have served as Opening Day starters at some point in the recent past.

Then there’s Dinelson Lamet, who might be the favorite for the nod, if not for question marks surrounding the health of his right elbow. In reality, it could be any of Snell, Darvish or Lamet.

What's the projected Opening Day lineup?
Let's say the D-backs go with righty Zac Gallen over lefty Madison Bumgarner. Here's what the Padres’ lineup might look like:

  1. Trent Grisham, CF
  2. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
  3. Manny Machado, 3B
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Wil Myers, RF
  6. Tommy Pham, LF
  7. Jake Cronenworth, 2B
  8. Austin Nola, C
  9. Dinelson Lamet, P

What's the projected Opening Day rotation?

  1. Dinelson Lamet
  2. Yu Darvish
  3. Blake Snell
  4. Joe Musgrove
  5. Chris Paddack

That's with the caveat that it's very possible the Padres open the season with a six-man staff to alleviate the workload on those five starters. In building back up to a 162-game season, some in the organization feel an early-season six-man rotation might be prudent.

In that case, lefty Adrian Morejon could slot into the No. 6 spot with the expectation that he'd go four or five innings, before handing the ball over to the bullpen.

Who are some prospects to keep an eye on in camp?
As usual, general manager A.J. Preller didn't skimp on prospects when doling out non-roster invites. All four of the team's Top 100 Prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, are in camp, as are eight of the Padres' top 10 overall.

It'll be interesting to see how 20-year-old infielder CJ Abrams and 19-year-old outfielder Robert Hassell handle themselves in their first big league camp. But as far as the big league club is concerned, there are three youngsters primarily worth watching.

MacKenzie Gore is most prominent among them. He's the sport's top-ranked pitching prospect, and even though the Padres have built a fearsome, five-deep rotation, they envision Gore making an impact very soon.

Meanwhile, Campusano and left-hander Ryan Weathers also find themselves on the fringe of the battle for roster spots. Campusano is vying for a place as the team's third catcher, while Weathers -- who will be stretched to a starter's workload early in camp -- probably has a better shot to make the team in the 'pen.

What's the Padres' injury status?
The most important name on this list is Lamet, who missed the postseason last October and received a platelet-rich plasma injection for his balky right elbow. Thus far, Lamet's throwing program has progressed as scheduled. But the Padres won't know for certain that he's past his injury until he begins pitching in game-like settings.

Some other notable Padres injuries:

• Left fielder Tommy Pham had left wrist surgery and was the victim of a stab wound early in the offseason, but the Padres expect him at full strength.

• Lefty reliever Matt Strahm had surgery on his right patellar tendon, and it could be a race against the clock for him to be ready by Opening Day.

• Lefty reliever José Castillo has pitched only two-thirds of an inning over the past two seasons due to an assortment of ailments -- including a left lat strain, a left flexor strain and a left middle-finger injury. Castillo is likely to progress slowly in the spring, but the Padres believe he's fully fit.

• Right-handers Trey Wingenter and Mike Clevinger are expected to miss the season due to Tommy John surgery.

When is the first Spring Training game?
The Padres' first Spring Training game takes place Sunday, Feb. 28, against the Mariners, with whom they share the Peoria Sports Complex.

When is Opening Day and who is the opponent?
On April 1, the Padres host the D-backs at 1:10 p.m. PT at Petco Park.