There are three exhibition games left in 2012. Most of the position players have been ready for the regular season for a week now, and their opening day can't come too soon. Some of the pitchers don't mind getting in the extra work in the games left. Sunday is the last exhibition game the Padres will play in Arizona this year.
Some bags are already packed up.
The Padres will take Monday off and play an exhibition game Tuesday evening at Petco Park against the Seattle Mariners. Both teams will then bus North on Wednesday and play another exhibition game at Lake Elsinore, home of a Padres' minor league affiliate, the Lake Elsinore Storm of A-ball. Then the Padres will come home and open the regular season against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday afternoon. Petco Park will be dressed up nicely for opening day, as it always is.
The season will open with a lot of uncertainty in many areas. After Jeff Moorad left as CEO, the minority ownership group that was in the process of purchasing the Padres from majority owner John Moores has yet to signal if they still intend to purchase the club or if they will also sell to another potential buyer. John Moores hasn't strongly indicated his intentions either, although it is assumed that he will eventually seek a buyer if the minority group is no longer interested. Even making assumptions there are still more questions than ever.
The media contract between the Padres and Fox Sports San Diego is still not approved by MLB owners, no vote has been taken. No timetable for possible approval is being made public. Again, assumptions can be made that the contract will be approved. Meanwhile, questions about it are being answered with a nebulous, "It's close."
The futures of the front office people that Jeff Moorad hired, what's to become of them? COO and temporary CEO Tom Garfinkel had been working with Moorad for years, with two different MLB franchises. General Manager Josh Byrnes worked for Moorad in Arizona, then came over after Moorad left and Byrnes was subsequently fired by the Diamondbacks. Moorad let Jed Hoyer walk away because he preferred Byrnes. Will they be retained if Moores decides to take back the helm? If a new owner emerges?
The frustration with these uncertainties is that the Padres front office is finally doing things the right way for this small market team. They've locked up three good players with very team-friendly contracts. Say what you will about Jeff Moorad, but what was started by Hoyer and now continuing with Byrnes appears to have put the Padres in a great position to be able to contend in the coming years. Kevin Towers, former Padres general manager and current G.M. of the Arizona Diamondbacks is a brilliant man and an amazing evaluator of talent, but it's no secret that he didn't always get to execute how he wanted under Moores.
On the field, the Padres and manager Bud Black have three games to figure out whether Everth Cabrera or Andy Parrino will make the big club as a back-up infielder. And in the outfield, Kyle Blanks is being chased by Jeremy Hermida and - according to Corey Brock from mlb.com - James Darnell. Pitching still has to be set, will it be Micah Owings or Brad Brach? At least the field will be set by opening day, even if nothing else is.
As for when everything else will fall into place, that's anyone's guess.
Saturday, the Padres played a pair and their momentum was slowed in each case. In the afternoon, Tim Stauffer was roughed up for 6 runs on 7 hits (including 2 home runs) and 2 walks in 5 innings, striking out two. Word is that in spite of the numbers, Stauffer's stuff was actually better than in his previous outing. Huston Street pitched and unimpressive sixth inning, giving up 4 runs on 3 hits (including 2 home runs) and striking out two. Joe Thatcher, Luke Gregerson, and Dale Thayer each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. After the game, Thayer was reassigned to minor league camp.
While the game got away from the Padres early, the bats didn't quit. Jesus Guzman went 1 for 2 and cranked his 4th home run in Cactus League play, a 3-run blast. Chris Denorfia was 2 for 4 with a double, James Darnell was 2 for 3 with a double, while Kyle Blanks got a pair of hits in three at-bats. Pitcher Tim Stauffer and catcher Brad Davis each had a hit. Davis was also then reassigned to minor league camp along with Thayer.
The Brewers beat the Padres 10-7.
Later in the same complex they share with the Seattle Mariners, the Padres lost to the Mariners 6-1. Joe Wieland got the start and looked sharp in his 5 innings of work, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk while striking out five. Anthony Bass pitched the 6th, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, Micah Owings then went an inning and allowed a run on 3 hits, and Brad Brach closed it out giving up a run on a hit. The runs given up by Owings and Brach were both homers.
Padres bats were relatively silent. Andy Parrino went 1 for 3 and hit his 5th home run in Cactus League play for the only Padres scoring. Yonder Alonso was 2 for 3 with a double while Nick Hundley also doubled. Will Venable collected a hit in 4 at-bats to round out the Padres offense.
Most of the day-to-day injuries seem to have worked themselves out. The exception is with veteran pitcher Jeff Suppan, who didn't get a real chance to compete for a starting job with the big club due to an ongoing issue with a strained tricep. Suppan will stay behind in Arizona for extended spring training and then will likely be assigned to AAA at some point.
The last Padres game in Arizona in Cactus League play this season will take place in Surprise, where the Padres will meet the Texas Rangers. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM. Cory Luebke will get his final tune-up this spring. The game can be heard on radio XX 1090 AM.