For the third consecutive year, injuries are hitting the Padres hard before the season starts.
Center fielder Cameron Maybin could miss at least the first two weeks of the regular season after suffering a ruptured biceps tendon in his left arm March 2 while diving for a ball in an exhibition game.
Third baseman Chase Headley was still sidelined as of March 9 due to a calf strain suffered during the third day of full-squad practice during a rundown drill. Catcher Yasmani Grandal was still rehabbing following last August's ACL surgery on his right knee, and he had yet to appear in a spring training game. And closer Huston Street was working through a groin strain and has yet to appear in a spring training game through March 9.
The Padres opened last season with Headley and infielder Logan Forsythe on the disabled list and Grandal serving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs. Left fielder Carlos Quentin was also restricted due to right knee problems.
Not once in the 2013 season were the Padres able to field their projected Opening Day lineup.
Maybin, who played only 14 games in all of 2013 due to wrist and knee problems, decided not to have surgery to repair the rupture after meeting March 6 with Padres team physicians in San Diego. Surgery might have sidelined Maybin through the All-Star break.
The timetable for Maybin's return is now four to six weeks.
"Our doctors feel good about the outcome if there is not a surgical procedure," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I think Cam feels good about this, and he's ready to rehab this without a surgery."
A MRI exam conducted the day after the injury occurred showed no damage to Maybin's shoulder capsule or rotator cuff. Maybin had surgery in 2010 to repair a torn labrum in the same left shoulder. He had surgery on his right wrist early last September.
"It's disappointing, but the news from the MRI was better than expected," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "It was a very unusual injury, one not normally associated with baseball. "
The Padres say it is still possible for Grandal to be on the Opening Day roster, although they are proceeding slowly with the switch-hitting catcher this spring. Both Headley and Street are expected to be ready for the season opener.
--OF/INF Alex Castellanos, 27, was claimed off waivers by the Padres from the Rangers on March 7. Castellanos, who can play all three outfield positions as well as second and third, was acquired after the Padres lost CF Cameron Maybin for up to six weeks with a ruptured left biceps muscle. Although left-handed hitters Will Venable and Alexi Amarista could see the most action in center until Maybin returns, Castellanos gives the Padres a right-handed option. He will be vying for one of the last spots on the 25-man, Opening Day roster.
Castellanos hit .177 with two homers in 24 games over the past two seasons with the Dodgers. He hit .291 with 36 home runs and 35 steals in 199 games over the past two year with the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate.
--1B Tommy Medica was the Padres' hottest hitter early in the exhibition season. Through March 9, Medica was 13-for-25 (.520) with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs. Medica, who turns 26 on April 9, hit .290 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 69 at-bats over 19 games with the Padres at the end of last season. He is also competing for the final spot on the Opening Day roster, although his inexperience in the outfield probably means he will open the season at Triple-A El Paso. Medica, Castellanos, OF/1B Kyle Blanks and 1B/OF Xavier Nady are competing for the right-handed-hitting outfield/first base/pinch hitter spot on the Opening Day roster.
--RHPs Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, who both came on strong for the Padres as starters at the end of last season, did not allow a run through their first two exhibition starts. Cashner, 27, who is on schedule to be the Padres' Opening Day starter, allowed three hits with no walks against five strikeouts over five innings. Ross also worked five innings in his first two starts without allowing a hit, although he issued three walks against four strikeouts.
--LF Carlos Quentin started only two of the Padres' first 11 exhibition games as the club continues to monitor his right knee and limit his activities. Quentin, who played half of each of the past two seasons due to right knee problems, has a new batting stance (upright with his feet slightly more spread). He homered for his only hit this spring through March 9. Quentin has had three right knee surgeries since the start of spring training 2012.
--C Yasmani Grandal, who is rehabbing after undergoing right ACL surgery last Aug. 6, saw his first live action behind the plate in a simulated game on March 8. Grandal caught every other inning. "This moves him closer to an actual game," manager Bud Black said.
--RHP Huston Street, who is sidelined due to groin tightness, had long-toss and side throwing sessions over the weekend of March 7-9. Street suffered the injury March 2.
--LHP Cory Luebke, who two weeks ago had his second round of "Tommy John" elbow reconstruction surgery in less than 21 months, was placed on the 60-day disabled list to open a spot on the 40-man roster for OF/INF Alex Castellanos. Luebke will not pitch this season.
--OF Yeison Asencio was sent to Double-A San Antonio on March 9, and the Padres reassigned RHP Adys Portillo, RHP Joe Ross and OF Daniel Robertson to their minor league camp. The moves left 57 players in the major league camp, including 39 players on the 40-man roster.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The thing about plays like that, you can't play at a lesser level. You have to play a spring training game like a regular-season game. You see players in both the Cactus League and Grapefruit League playing hard. Cam is a major league player who plays the game the way it should be played." -- Padres manager Bud Black, defending CF Cameron Maybin's decision to make a diving catch in right-center during the club's third exhibition game, a choice that resulted in a ruptured left biceps muscle that will sideline Maybin for more than a month.
RHP Andrew Cashner
RHP Josh Johnson
RHP Tyson Ross
RHP Ian Kennedy
LHP Eric Stults
Cashner came within a seventh-inning single of throwing the first no-hitter (and perfect game) in Padres history last Sept. 16 in Pittsburgh. He took giant steps forward toward developing into a staff ace. Cashner (3.09 ERA) and Ross (3.17 ERA) both emerged as quality starters in 2013.
The key to the rotation's success could be Johnson, who had an operation last October to remove particles from his surgically rebuilt elbow. When healthy, Johnson has top-of-the-rotation stuff.
Kennedy and Stults are competitive innings-eaters at the bottom of the rotation. The Padres will have four solid starting prospects in minors in RHPs Matt Wisler, Burch Smith, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly and LHP Robbie Erlin. Wisler and Smith have the highest ceilings.
RHP Huston Street (closer)
RHP Joaquin Benoit
LHP Alex Torres
RHP Dale Thayer
RHP Nick Vincent
RHP Tim Stauffer
The free agent signing of Benoit gives the Padres two potential closers. If not closing, Benoit is the perfect setup replacement for RHP Luke Gregerson, who was traded to Oakland for left-handed-hitting OF Seth Smith.
Torres is more than a situational left-hander. He has the stuff of a late-inning setup man, a fact that could open the last spot in the bullpen to another left-hander (Rule 5 acquisition Patrick Schuster or Zach Braddock). The veteran Stauffer is the perfect long man, and he also has the stuff to make an emergency start.
Thayer is durable. Vincent was an unsung hero the past two seasons.
1. SS Everth Cabrera
2. OF Will Venable or OF Chris Denorfia or OF Seth Smith
3. 3B Chase Headley
4. LF Carlos Quentin
5. C Yasmani Grandal
6. 2B Jedd Gyorko
7. 1B Yonder Alonso
8. CF Cameron Maybin or Denorfia or C Nick Hundley
The Padres used 145 starting lineups last season due to injuries and suspensions. Even if they are healthy this season, they could come close to matching that figure. The reason is roster versatility. The Padres have three switch hitters: Grandal, Headley and Cabrera. Manager Bud Black could field a starting lineup of eight right-handed position players against a left-handed pitcher and seven left-handed hitters against a right-hander.
Black will have five outfielders to choose from, giving him ample ways to rest Quentin's tender right knee.
Aside from Quentin, the Padres have few proven power hitters -- although Gyorko hit 23 homers as a rookie in 2013 and Headley had 31 homers in 2012. Given Cabrera's ability in the leadoff slot and Quentin's presence when healthy in the No. 4 slot, the offense should be improved this season from one through eight.
Black believes all five of his outfielders -- Quentin, 2013 club MVP Venable, Denorfia, Smith and Maybin -- are capable of 400 plate appearances this season.
TOP ROOKIES: OF Rymer Liriano probably will open the season at Double-A San Antonio after missing the entire 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. The 22-year-old is still viewed as the top outfield prospect in the system, and he could be promoted to Triple-A El Paso and the major leagues by the end of the season.
RHP Matt Wisler, 21, was a combined 10-6 with a 2.78 ERA at Class A Lake Elsinore and San Antonio last season. He could be inserted into the major league rotation when needed this year.
--RHP Huston Street (groin tightness) suffered the injury March 2. He had long-toss and side throwing sessions during the weekend of March 7-9.
--CF Cameron Maybin (ruptured left biceps tendon) was hurt March 2. He won't undergo surgery, and there is a chance he could be on the Opening Day roster.
--3B Chase Headley (right calf strain) was hurt Feb. 21. He might be able to return to action in mid-March.
--RHP Casey Kelly (Tommy John surgery in April 2012) threw off a mound in mid-February, and he threw a bullpen session March 7. The Padres hope that Kelly might be able to pitch in minor league games by the end of April or early May.
--C Yasmani Grandal (right knee surgery in August 2013) had a torn anterior cruciate ligament repaired. He was limited early in spring training, but he aims to be ready by Opening Day.
--LHP Cory Luebke (Tommy John surgeries in May 2012 and February 2014) went on the 60-day disabled list March 7. He will miss the entire 2014 season.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cameron Maybin
- Chase Headley
- Yasmani Grandal
- Alex Castellanos
- Carlos Quentin
- Andrew Cashner