Dave Rice 6:30 p.m., March 24
Back during the 2010 season, the Padres had a bunch of kids on a team that wasn't expected to do a thing. Someone forgot to tell them that they weren't any good. All they did was to compete in the division, leading most of the way only to run into a cold spell late in the summer. They finished one game out, it came down to the final day of the regular season.
The San Francisco Giants, the team that beat them that last day to secure a playoff spot, went on to win the World Series.
A lot of those same kids are still here, only a full year more experienced. Last season, the Padres were never in it, they struggled at the plate and while the game metrics had them close to playing .500 ball, they came up just short time and time again. Losing ninety games is not much fun in a baseball season, and not a single sports writer has the Padres anywhere in 2012 except for last place in their division. Las Vegas will let you bet on whether or not this season's Padres will win even 71 or 72 games.
There isn't a single solid reason to think that the Padres will compete this season either. On paper, they look horrible matched up to the likes of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers. Some sports media personalities are even predicting good things for the Colorado Rockies. It's difficult to blame them for placing the Padres at the bottom of the division.
Ownership issues make everything seem so uncertain. Sure, they just locked up Cory Luebke for five years (brilliant move), but the future beyond these signings (including Maybin and Hundley) is completely unknown. Tossing that into the mix, it makes the 2010 season seem a more reasonable result. This season, the Padres simply don't have a chance.
Or don't they?
Fly back East and ask anyone to name a single player on the Padres, that won't happen easily. Just like in 2010 before then-General Manager Jed Hoyer signed a couple of players to help the Padres get some sort of an edge for the stretch drive into October, they are a bunch of guys with no popular recognition among the 750 players in major league baseball. Shades of the 2010 season. Shades of the comeback kids.
The thing is, all spring these guys have been coming back, they fight, they don't give in or give up. Cactus League statistics don't matter and they don't count, but the fight in these guys, you can't buy that in free agency. It doesn't mean a thing once the regular season starts, but if there is any indicator as to how spring rolls into summer, then perhaps there is hope. Perhaps there is enough desire to prove everyone wrong that the 2012 Padres will battle the Diamondbacks and the Giants and the Dodgers and the Rockies and they will be accountable.
There will be 25 guys on opening day hoping for the same thing.
The comeback kids did it again on Friday, with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Giants in Peoria by the score of 8-7. Dustin Moseley went five innings and was the unfortunate victim of a horrible error by Jesus Guzman who tried to do more with a ground ball than he should have and threw it into the ground trying for an impossible double play. Moseley gave up 7 runs (4 earned) on 9 hits and 2 walks, but his effort was better than the numbers indicate.
Brad Boxberger, Miles Mikolas, Andrew Cashner, and Eddie Kunz each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
Nick Hundley and Kyle Blanks each went 3 for 4, with two of Hundley's hits going for doubles. Everth Cabrera went 2 for 4, and Jeremy Hermida continues to have an amazing spring belting his 4th home run. Jesus Guzman, Chris Denorfia, and James Darnell each contributed in the Padres 12-hit offensive effort.
The Padres stand at 19-12 in the Cactus League.
All nicked-up players seem to be playing now, except for Jeff Suppan, who is still stretching out playing long-toss and will likely open his season with AAA Tucson. Carlos Quentin is rehabbing, and is reported to be on-schedule for a return in about a month. Orlando Hudson reported no ill-effects from his recently strained groin injury.
Today's game is going on right now, if you have Cox cable or DirecTV, you can tune in. The Stauf is on the mound as the Padres face the Milwaukee Brewers. It is another split-squad day, but the nightcap will not be broadcast when the Padres face the Mariners later this afternoon. This game is televised on Fox Sports San Diego and carried on radio 1700 AM.