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And so, the San Diego Padres are ready to open the regular season on Monday, facing the New York Mets in New York. Or are they ready? Chase Headley begins the season on the disabled list, as does Logan Forsythe, and pitchers Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland are not expected to be active until mid-season.

Pitching prospect Casey Kelly is also going under the Tommy John knife and will be lost for the season. Carlos Quentin is expected to make the opening day lineup, but is still a concern with a sore knee. Shades of last season?

Perhaps, and perhaps not. Gone are shortstop Jason Bartlett and second baseman Orlando Hudson, which immediately raises both the batting averages and the fielding capabilities, regardless of who takes their places.

But the loss of Headley is huge to open the season, as much as the loss of Quentin last season affected the lineup. Headley is expected back perhaps as early as the end of April, but meanwhile, Carlos Quentin will need protection.

Jedd Gyorko will play either second or third base, depending, but he's entirely unproven offensively against big league pitching. Will manager Bud Black depend on Gyorko's potential to protect Quentin in the lineup? If not Gyorko, then who?

Figure that last year's leader in stolen bases will lead off for the Padres, Everth Cabrera. Batting second would be either Will Venable or Chris Denorfia, depending on whether the opposing team throws a lefty or a right-handed pitcher. Who would bat third?

It's a problem that Buddy will have to work out. But whoever is in that spot will have to try and protect Quentin until Headley returns. Yonder Alonso has that talent but is only beginning his second full season. Cameron Maybin probably needs to prove that he's back and in form. Nick Hundley fell apart last season and would need to revert to his 2011 form. Who else is there to fill in?

If Buddy and the Padres can work it out and hang tough for a couple of weeks, then perhaps it will all work out in the end. However, the Padres, who are expected to spend just short of $70 million dollars on payroll this season, are in tough against the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, even if the Padres were completely healthy.

The Dodgers and the Giants are stacked, spending around $200 million and $150 million on payroll, respectively. The Arizona Diamondbacks are touted as being improved over last season. And the Padres are essentially fielding the same players as they finished last season using, save for a couple of new faces including rookie Jedd Gyorko and journeyman Cody Ransom.

The walls in right and center field have been brought in some, and it looks nice. What purpose this serves is a mystery since the Padres have no left-handed power save for the injured Headley, but we will see. Will Venable can get into one at times and Yonder Alonso could benefit, but otherwise, where the Padres make good on the field dimension change is something more genius than some of us can possibly imagine.

Here's the 25-man roster:

Pitchers 45 Bass, Anthony R/R 6-2 190 58 Brach, Brad R/R 6-6 210 34 Cashner, Andrew R/R 6-6 200 57 Gregerson, Luke L/R 6-3 202 21 Marquis, Jason L/R 6-1 220 33 Richard, Clayton L/L 6-5 245 38 Ross, Tyson R/R 6-6 230 16 Street, Huston R/R 6-0 190 53 Stults, Eric L/L 6-0 225 54 Thatcher, Joe L/L 6-2 228 55 Thayer, Dale R/R 6-0 180 37 Volquez, Edinson R/R 6-0 225

Catchers 8 Baker, John L/R 6-1 220 4 Hundley, Nick R/R 6-1 203

Infielders 23 Alonso, Yonder L/R 6-2 240 5 Amarista, Alexi L/R 5-7 150 2 Cabrera, Everth S/R 5-10 176 9 Gyorko, Jedd R/R 5-10 210 1 Ransom, Cody R/R 6-2 200

Outfielders 13 Denorfia, Chris R/R 6-0 193 15 Guzman, Jesus R/R 6-1 215 14 Kotsay, Mark L/L 6-0 210 24 Maybin, Cameron R/R 6-3 18 Quentin, Carlos R/R 6-2 235 25 Venable, Will L/L 6-2 201

(Chase Headley and Logan Forsythe are on the disabled list.)


Notes:

The Padres regular season starts tomorrow as the team visits Citi Field to face the New York Mets. The game starts at 10:10 AM PDST and can be heard on the Mighty 1090 AM and seen on Fox Sports San Diego. Unless you have Time Warner. Those of us with the other four options concerning television feed, we pity your misfortune, along with Mayor Filner.

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