The San Diego Padres already dealt with adversity heading into the 2022 season, and manager Bob Melvin is no stranger to overcoming obstacles.
The Padres have not hired a manager with previous managerial experience in the big leagues since Jack McKeon came to town in 1988. With the devastating news of Fernando Tatis Jr.’s wrist injury, which will sideline him for upwards of three months, the mood around the team is gloomy.
Melvin addressed the media on Tuesday and said that Tatis’ motorcycling days are over. He addressed the question in a professional way. He did not throw his superstar shortstop under the bus, yet he remained firm that Tatis’ decision to be reckless was unwise.
Bob Melvin said he believes Fernando Tatis Jr.'s motorcycle-riding day are over. "You know, he's 22 years old, you have some fun and I don't think anything was intentional here. But I think you learn from experiences and I think this is one to learn from."
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) March 15, 2022
Following the discouraging news, Melvin also mentioned on Monday that out of this challenge comes an opportunity. “It gives somebody else an opportunity. It’s not 26 or 28 (players). A lot of the time, it’s 40 or 50 over the course of the season. That should motivate us to hold down the fort until he gets back. We signed (Ha-Seong) Kim for a reason last year. He’s going to get an opportunity.”
Melvin acknowledge that, while losing Tatis is a huge hit, there are pieces in place to lessen the blow and keep the team competing. He didn’t spread panic or appear to be flustered. A championship team is built with depth beyond a few star players, and Melvin expects Ha-Seong Kim to fill the void at shortstop in Tatis’ absence.
He also has his work cut out for him on handling what was an under-achieving starting rotation in 2021.
Mike Clevinger, fully healthy after Tommy John surgery, is one of four starters "set in stone" in the Padres rotation, Bob Melvin says. (Darvish, Snell, Musgrove being the others.) Unclear whether Clevinger might have an early-season limitation on his workload.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) March 15, 2022
Melvin certainly dealt with a wide variety of challenges in his 18 years as a manager to this point. The three-time Manager of the Year helped the 2018 Athletics win 97 games, despite being dead last in the league by a wide margin in payroll. In fact, the 2022 Padres might be the highest payroll he has ever had to work with.
The biggest difference between Melvin and the previous Padres managers is already apparent. The general command of press conferences well-thought-out responses, with limited clichés is a breath of fresh air. Former Athletics pitcher and current analyst for the team’s TV broadcast Dallas Braden told “Ben and Woods” on 97.3 The Fan, “Bob Melvin is an expert communicator, and he knows how to put a puzzle together.”
His teams have a reputation of overachieving. He made the playoffs seven times over his last 14 seasons as manager, including his time with the Diamondbacks. He is no stranger to dealing with long odds and leading a team that has to compete in a tough, deep division. Although he has not won the World Series as a manager yet, he was the bench coach for the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks.
He will need to manage a team with several stars, some under-achieving players with gaudy contracts, as well as some young, inexperienced players with big potential. From setting a lineup every day to managing a pitching staff that has high hopes with renewed health, he has plenty of work to do. With his wide net of experiences and history of leading a group of over-achievers, it’s easy to see him having success with a roster as talented as San Diego’s.