Attention to the Youthful Padres: Ian Kinsler Leads By Example

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13-year veteran Ian Kinsler was signed by the San Diego Padres in late December to help build a winning culture. The second baseman provides certain intangibles that can be quite rewarding for a team that is in search of an identity.

In all honesty, It was a bit odd when the San Diego Padres signed Ian Kinsler to a two-year deal this winter.

With Luis Urias making his major league debut in 2018, Kinsler is a huge roadblock for the young Mexican infielder. The second baseman has been productive throughout his major league career and he was brought to the team to play. He should get plenty of action for the Friars in 2019.

At 21, Urias still has plenty of major league at-bats in his career, so perhaps bringing in a veteran like Kinsler is not a death sentence. At this point, it’s looking like Urias will play shortstop to begin the 2019 season (if Tatis is sent to Triple-A) and both men will get ample at-bats. Things could change in time, but that appears to be the likely outcome when camp breaks.

So why was Kinsler brought to San Diego? The simple answer is that he brings leadership abilities and that is what the Padres are presently in search of. The franchise needs to add the proper mix of veterans to all the youth on the team. This must all be done properly in order to truly reap the benefits of what A.J. Preller and his staff have created. We have heard of the talent for a while, but it is up to the major league team and their coaching staff to finish the cultivation of these young men. This has been a long road for the organization.

“He has an edge to him” was Andy Green’s first response when I asked him about the veteran second baseman. Following Ian Kinsler’s career from a distance, I was well aware that he can be a bit intense. His response to Andy’s comments was pretty natural. “I like to play the game a certain way (slight pause)… I guess I play with a little bit of an edge. I play with emotions at times and I try to bring a focus every day that hopefully, my teammates can draw upon.” He didn’t seem too sure of Green’s compliment at first but did realize that the manager values his “edge” and what it brings to his young team.

“I try to lead by example. If they notice. They notice. But with a young player, especially the talent that the young players have here, you gotta let them figure it out on their own. You don’t want to pull the reins back on them. You need to let them go and be free. They are all very talented, but sometimes they need to figure it out on their own.” The young players must show the initiative to get better. At the major league level, nothing is given to you. You must earn it and not be content with where you are. The message is pretty clear and coming from a player who has been in the game for a long time, will only make that sink in better.

It seems clear that the San Diego Padres found a quality example for their young team, but why did Kinsler choose the Padres? “Talking with A.J., I understood what they were trying to develop here. The amount of talent that was coming. Obviously, I knew Eric (Hosmer) from playing with him in the WBC. I love the way he plays the game. I love his mentality. It really just seemed like a good fit for me. There is a lot of excitement here and as you age, anytime you can get around excitement in the game of baseball, that’s a good thing.” At the age of 36, and with over 1,800 career major league games played, Kinsler is searching for motivation. A youthful bunch around him will clearly bring the best out of this veteran in 2019.

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