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4 takeaways from Padres Spring Training

@AJCassavell
March 16, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, baseball has understandably been put on hold. The Padres have sent players home, and Opening Day will be pushed back further, following a recommendation from the CDC. There are obviously more pressing issues than Padres Spring Training. But baseball chatter

SAN DIEGO -- In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, baseball has understandably been put on hold. The Padres have sent players home, and Opening Day will be pushed back further, following a recommendation from the CDC.

There are obviously more pressing issues than Padres Spring Training. But baseball chatter has always been an excellent means of escape. So it's worth taking a moment to pause and reflect on what we learned from the month the Padres just spent in Peoria.

The bullpen might be that good
The Padres entered February with one of the best bullpens in baseball. Then, on the eve of Spring Training, they added Emilio Pagán to that mix. If it seemed like an embarrassment of riches at the time, it feels that way even more so now.

Padres relievers were excellent during the spring, with the 13 relievers on the 40-man roster combining to post a 2.88 ERA. Javy Guerra, Matt Strahm, Kirby Yates and Andres Munoz didn't allow a run.

The Padres have seemingly carved out a group of Major League-caliber relief options that is 11 or 12 deep. They'll put Yates at the back end, with Pagán, Strahm, Munoz and Drew Pomeranz among the primary set-up weapons.

But among the Padres' relief corps, Guerra might have been the most noteworthy standout. A converted shortstop, Guerra was out of options entering camp, leaving the Padres with a conundrum if he couldn't prove himself big league ready. Not only did Guerra prove himself big league ready this spring -- he showed off a two-seamer that sits at 98 mph and a slider that bites.

Lamet seems poised for a breakout
For obvious reasons, there hasn't been much said or written about Dinelson Lamet this spring. But in any other year, he'd have been the talk of Padres camp. Why? Because he was flat-out untouchable at times this spring.

Over three starts, Lamet pitched nine innings and struck out 11 while allowing just three hits and a walk. It became readily apparent that he'd harnessed his hard slider and his sharp curveball into two separate weapons both capable of putting hitters away.

Lamet, of course, broke out in 2017 before missing all of '18 and half of '19 following Tommy John surgery. It took a few starts for him to put it all back together, but he finished last season strong. When the 2020 season gets underway, Lamet is a clear candidate for a breakout.

Grisham is the regular center fielder
When the Padres dealt Manuel Margot in early February, it seemingly left center field wide open. Trent Grisham appears to be the beneficiary of that opening.

The Padres landed Grisham from Milwaukee in the November deal that sent Luis Urías to the Brewers. Grisham hadn't played much center field in the big leagues, where he was blocked by Lorenzo Cain. But the Padres liked what they saw in the Minors, and he was solid defensively this spring.

On top of that, Grisham batted .355/.394/.484 in the Cactus League, and he did damage against both left- and right-handed pitching. To be clear: Once the season begins, Grisham still needs to earn his right to stay in center. But he's going to get that chance, at the very least.

The Padres have glaring question marks at catcher and second base
OK, this isn't exactly a revelation. The Padres had the same question marks for most of the winter. It's just that, well, they spent a month in Peoria, and they didn't really get any clarity at either spot.

Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejía are still expected to share time behind the plate. Hedges is excellent defensively, but he hasn't done enough on offense to warrant everyday playing time. Mejía, meanwhile, went hitless over 15 at-bats this spring, and struggled on defense, too.

At second base, the Padres added Brian Dozier to their mix. They might be OK with some sort of playing time split among Dozier, Jurickson Profar and Greg Garcia. But the race among those three -- and perhaps even utility options Ty France and Jake Cronenworth -- feels as wide-open as it's ever been.

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