Notes: Weathers works; Cronenworth in OF?

February 26th, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Has any Padres player made a bigger year-to-year leap than ?

Last spring, Weathers didn't receive an invitation to big league camp. This spring, he's fresh off a scoreless postseason debut, and he's holding his own against middle-of-the-order Major League hitters.

Weathers' statement debut against the Dodgers last October came out of the bullpen, but he's building toward a starter's workload again this spring. As such, he was the first Padres pitcher to work multiple innings in a simulated-game setting, facing the heart of the San Diego lineup twice on a back field at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Weathers worked a 1-2-3 first inning with two strikeouts against , and . (Though it wasn’t without some good-natured sim-game controversy. Hosmer contended that his opposite-field grounder would've been a "shift-beater." Pitching coach Larry Rothschild overruled him. Ahh, sim games!)

After a half-inning break, Weathers faced four batters in his second frame, walking Pham twice and inducing a pair of fly-ball outs.

"He's in a position, when we start games, to step forward," Rothschild said afterward. "We'll see where it goes. He's a young kid, and there's still things he can work on. But he's fun to watch."

Rothschild went on to add that Weathers' presence on the Padres roster "ages me a lot," considering that Rothschild was also pitching coach for Weathers' father, David, on the mid-1990s Marlins.

There aren't many similarities between father and son, Rothschild said. David was a righty sinker-baller, and Weathers is a lefty whose fastball plays up in the zone. But there is one similarity: "They're both smart pitchers. I think Ryan has gotten that from his dad -- a really good understanding of the game, ahead of his years."

On Thursday, Weathers mixed three pitches -- fastball, changeup and slider -- to induce several swings-and-misses and almost no solid contact. It's the latest encouraging sign for the 21-year-old, who could provide the Padres with some valuable rotation depth this season.

Last summer, Weathers added several ticks to his fastball velocity, taking it into the upper 90s. He blended that velocity with excellent command and a penchant for attacking hitters.

When the Padres needed innings following injuries to and , Weathers earned a callup for the National League Division Series, where he worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames against the Dodgers. The Padres hope there's more where that came from.

"It looks like he's had a taste of it," manager Jayce Tingler said. "And he's looking very hungry for more."

Cronenworth open to outfield
hasn't yet taken reps in left field this spring -- "yet" being the key word there.

At some point over the next month, the Padres' do-everything infielder will almost certainly get some looks in the outfield, and Cronenworth is more than open to the concept.

"Any way I can help the team win," Cronenworth said. "I know I say that a lot, but I truly mean it. It's what I'm here to do."

Cronenworth broke out last season with a .285/.354/.477 slash line and a second-place finish in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. But the Padres added free-agent to what was already a deep group of infielders, and Kim figures to share time with Cronenworth at second base.

If the Padres ever want to get both Cronenworth and Kim into their lineup, the best way to do so would be using one of them in a corner-outfield spot. Considering his athleticism, the Padres think Cronenworth is more than capable. He played all four infield spots last season -- and played them well.

"I've always been comfortable moving around," Cronenworth said.

Worth noting
• Right-hander is slated to start the Padres' second game of the spring on Monday against the Cubs, following in the opener against the Mariners on Sunday.

• Infielder -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Padres' No. 2 prospect and the No. 8 overall prospect -- took infield with the Padres' starting group on Thursday, sharing reps with Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop.

• Rothschild said the Padres' trades to add , and over the offseason were, “A pretty nice Christmas present.”

“It delivered a message to everybody,” Rothschild added. “It’s nice to go into the season knowing that you can match up in any game at any time.”