COVID-19 complications testing the depth of Padres

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: AP Photo

Before the Padres took the field in a three-game series in Colorado against the Rockies, the news broke that Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers tested positive for COVID-19 and been placed on the injured list. Eric Hosmer, Jurickson Profar, and Jorge Mateo joined them due to contact tracing.

The loss of the three regular starters, Tatis Jr., Myers, and Hosmer, will especially test the depth of the Padres’ roster. The Padres have the dubious honor of leading all of baseball in the number of players on the injured list.

Manager Jayce Tingler bemoaned the loss of Tatis Jr., telling reporters that “mentally, Fernando’s crushed.” After a slow start and error-prone defense, Tatis Jr. had been on a mini roll with seven stolen bases, nine home runs, and an OPS of .867.

Even before the loss of five players to the IL had been announced, San Diego’s erratic results had moved the team several spots down in The Athletics’ Power Rankings which placed the team in seventh place behind the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodger, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and Oakland Athletics. No doubt, the loss of half the Padres’ regular infielders and one outfielder increases the degree of difficulty.

Fortunately, two of the four regular infielders, Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth, will help fill the gap. Ha-Seong Kim had received increased playing time recently, and Tucupita Marcano will get his opportunity.  In his first year in Major League Baseball, Kim has yet to catch up to the unfamiliar pitchers he’s had to face as his batting line of .191/.243/.250/.493 indicates.

However, Kim has already amassed six DRS (defensive runs saved) and has been a one-man highlight reel with his defensive prowess.

Also a rookie, Marcano has had his own issues at the plate in a limited sample size. Machado, who has experienced another slow start to a season (.237/.331/.405/.736), did help his cause with five RBIs in the first game victory over the Rockies on Tuesday.

In his second season in the big leagues, Cronenworth continues to be a pleasant surprise and has so far avoided a sophomore slump. His steady defense and ability to play multiple positions make him even more valuable right now. Although Cronenworth started the season on fire, he’s come back to earth but is still outperforming most of his teammates at the plate .286/.364/.429/.793. Cronenworth started Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Rockies on Wednesday at first as a stand-in for Hosmer, just as he had last year when Padres fans first heard his name.

Trent Grisham proved his abilities in center last season and has helped carry the team with his .290 batting average and .862 OPS.  Plus, he has stolen six bases and will help keep the running game alive in Tatis’ absence.

Brian O’Grady replaced Myers in right and will obviously see more playing time than he had so far. In his third year in MLB, he’s spent time with the Cincinnati Reds and the Tampa Bay Rays but has appeared in just 32 games over his career.

In left field, the Padres can turn to Tommy Pham, who played their regularly last year. So far, his offense has been mediocre at best as it was last year. Plus, he’s had problems staying healthy during his time in San Diego. In 2021 Pham has appeared in 34 games with 90 ABs and has batted an anemic .200/.321/.211/.532

Fortunately, the viral losses to the Padres have not affected the pitching staff so far. Also, the seven-inning game length for doubleheaders will help ease the burden on the relievers, who have been one of the brightest spots this year.

A month and a half into the 2021 season, San Diego has not lived up to the off-season hype. But the loss of Tatis Jr., Myers, Hosmer, Profar, and Mateo definitely increases the degree of difficulty in the Padres’ pursuit of back-to-back trips to the playoffs.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.

11 thoughts on “COVID-19 complications testing the depth of Padres

  1. We would not be dealing with this if these guys had done one simple thing…get vaccinated! Given both their contract sizes and importance to this team it’s just flat out irresponsible to think you’ll just dodge this virus. Really, really disappointing. Crappy role models too.

    1. Hello Jay,
      My sentiments exactly. This isn’t just about individuals, this is about the entire team and the wider community. It’s about protecting one another and believing in science–and setting a good example. It’s about earning the big bucks.
      I appreciate your taking the time to comment,

      1. Hi D,
        I don’t consider that judgmental. The fact is that five players have ended up on the IL. Aren’t you just a wee bit frustrated? Last season was a teaser, but it looked as if the Padres finally had a team that could contend.

        1. First, my reply was more specifically to Jay, but thank you for replying. Second, this is not about being frustrated with the circumstances re the team, but about people making false accusations, especially when it comes to things they do not know, including science. Sadly, when this happens then few will own up to it.

  2. Although Tatis is fun to watch and has a monster bat, He is not an infielder. With 30 throwing errors in his first 162 games, he is better suited to Left field. Consider the 30 errors, but reconsider that Hosmer, Profar and Cronenworth have dug the rest of his throws out of the dirt and stretched very wide of the bag to retrieve the rest. Move him to Left field. Maybe the Padres can trade Pham to Big 5 Sporting goods or In and Out for a few whatevers…If the Padres brag that they are aggressive with the youth, then bring up JJ.

    1. Hi Tempe2DHall,
      It has become increasingly apparent that Tatis doesn’t cut it at short. His miscues could have been blamed on his shoulder–if he hadn’t also had similar problems last year. He makes some incredible plays but overall is not the steady hand the team needs in that crucial position. You’re not the first person to think he should move to left field… It will be interesting to see how long the Padres put up with the lousy defense.
      Do you think Big 5 will take Pham?
      Thanks much for your comments,

    2. Er….CJ Abrams…Let this see him after the allstar break. I fear the the trade that should never have been made…Xavier Edwards.

  3. Hello D,
    The flurry of trades has certainly affected the depth in the upper minors. Plus this is a problem that can’t be solved quickly. Unfortunately using prospects to beef up the big league team and get to the playoffs again has backfired thanks to Covid.
    That brings up a bigger problem. Why on earth would any player jeopardize the Padres’ chances of winning? There should be a team-wide commitment to keeping eyes on the prize.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    1. I agree that getting vaccinated would have been the responsible thing to do. I get it’s an individual choice but, getting the illness has killed many and put some out of commission for months. They owe the Padres better.

      Pham… please AJ… make a move!

      There are a few outfielders that should be available including Tapia in CO who is hitting well and has speed to hit at the top of the order with Grisham. Pieces can be moved around including moving Tatis to right and bringing in Trevor Story for the year. Kim can play shortstop regularly if he can get his bat going. Maybe it’s time Abrams gets a shot early. Bottom line… Pham didn’t cut it last year or this year.

  4. This has revealed how woefully shallow the upper minors are when it comes to to depth. In years past it was far more easy to call up some people who could hold down the fort. The system has been gutted, and it shows in painful ways (at least when it comes to major league viable players). Marcano? Maybe in a couple of years. Kim is far from ready to hit at this level (although we all love his defense). Even Profar leaves much to be desired. I’d love to see Mateo get a shot (when he is back) over Profar.

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