Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler’s and his “No Pressure” wild ride

Credit: USA Today Sports

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

San Diego Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler must be excited for the 2021 season as the team has vastly improved this winter. 

In a late holiday gift to Padres’ fans, Mike Petriello of MLB.com recently declared that the “Padres just might be baseball’s best team.”  But hey, no pressure for sophomore manager Jayce Tingler.

Of course, Tingler had to be feeling the pressure last year when he landed in the hot seat previously occupied by six managers—Bruce Bochy, Bud Black, Dave Roberts, Pat Murphy, Andy Green, and Rod Barajas—since 2006.  At the end of the 2019 season, the front office had added to the pressure by all but guaranteeing a contending team after 14 years of futility.

Then, just when Tingler had met the team he would lead in Arizona, Major League Baseball shut down thanks to Covid-19, remained in limbo for months, and ended up playing a much-abbreviated schedule.  Through all the confusion and upheaval, Tingler’s public persona acknowledged the challenges realistically but emphasized the excitement of actually getting back on the field.

Tingler also voiced his concern for keeping everyone safe, including extended family members and avoiding injuries, especially those that could keep a player out for a good part of the 60-game schedule.  But these extraordinary challenges did not seem to faze him.

Of course, Tingler had the advantage of the best roster put together by general manager A.J. Preller in his time in San Diego.  From experienced major leaguers like Manny Machado to newbies like Jake Cronenworth to a budding superstar in Fernando Tatis Jr., Tingler had the raw material for success.  Just by appearances, the team jelled and developed a camaraderie that hadn’t necessarily been the norm in the recent past.

Major League Baseball recognized Tingler’s achievement when he came in second in the voting for National League Manager of the Year behind Don Mattingly of the Miami Marlins. He guided the Padres to their first winning season since 2010 and first playoff appearance since 2006—during a pandemic.  Of course, the Padres lost to Los Angeles Dodger in the National League Division Series.  But, there’s no shame in losing to the ultimate World Series winner, especially without the Padres’ two top pitchers, Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet.

When Preller hired Tingler in October last year, most Padres fans hadn’t ever heard that name.  A baseball junky, Tingler played minor league baseball for four seasons and reached the Double-A level.  Then he moved on to coaching beginning in 2007 in the Dominican Summer League, working his way up the minor-league ladder to the major league coaching staff of the Texas Rangers.  Obviously, Preller had been impressed by Tingler during his tenure in the Rangers’ front office before being hired by the Padres as general manager.

A native of Smithville, Missouri, Tingler attended the University of Missouri, where he played college ball.  He and his wife Callie and their two sons still live in Smithville.  He is bilingual and speaks Spanish and English, a valuable trait in an organization with Latino players at all levels.

Tingler’s only public misstep occurred in August when he criticized his own player, unleashing the clash between the traditional unwritten rules of old school baseball and the new wave of “let the kids play.” With the Padres leading the Rangers 10-3 in the top of the eighth inning, Tatis Jr. unleashed a grand slam home run on a 3-0 count.

Tingler’s criticism landed him in the middle of a national debate. It led Tatis to apologize for hitting two home runs and knocking in seven RBI, an astonishing feat for a Padre player.  The next morning, Tingler backed off and concentrated on Tatis missing a sign.

By the time the Dodgers manhandled the Padres to a 12-3 loss in game-3 of the National League Division Series, the controversy had been forgotten.  The sting of that defeat has receded into the background as teams turn their attention to the 2021 season.

Amid a nation-wide surge of the virus, MLB finds itself back in limbo.  The good news about the development of successful vaccines must be tempered because the ultimate goal of “herd immunity” will not be reached for months.

However, when the time comes to actually “play ball,” the Padres will take the field with high hopes.  Jayce Tingler’s rookie season as manager has certainly prepared him for whatever 2021 throws his way.

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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.
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Tony C
Tony C
1 year ago

Nice article Diane! Baseball is a business. Most employees perform better when they like their bosses. Baseball is no different. It seemed the roster liked playing for Tingler where it did not seem so with Green. But, as outsiders, we cannot be certain. But, winning begets better attitudes and a calmer approach. They did appear to be more loose and enjoy themselves. Whether Tingler assisted in that or not, we may never know. However, it doesn’t matter because the team built its own persona and you could see the excitement and the fun they shared as a team. I always… Read more »

Diane Calkins
Diane Calkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony C

Hello Tony, Holy hell! indeed. From our vantage point as fans, the team did seem looser with Tingler. Certainly, Andy Green and Wil Myers did not have a great relationship, and Myers had a much better year under Tingler. There will be many new faces this year again, and Tingler will have to deal with that on top of a pandemic. That’s a big ask, especially for a second-year manager. With this pitching staff and Gore in the wings, this season looks so promising. Just the Padres luck to have this all come together at such a difficult, scary time.… Read more »

Tanned Tom
Tanned Tom
1 year ago

So many things go into a successful season, and there were significant roster changes, but it is interesting that the club seems looser under Tingler, and we saw much better years out of Machado, Myers and Hosmer. Also, we saw him learn in the playoffs that a manager has to manage differently and go to his bullpen much earlier, before the game gets out of control.

Diane Calkins
Diane Calkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Tanned Tom

Hello Tom,
It’s been awhile. As far as we can tell, Tingler did a great job of adjusting to a changing roster and a decidedly weird season. You’re absolutely right about Machado, Myers and Hosmer. Tingler certainly had to have something to do with that too. He got dealt a rotten hand in the series with the Dodgers. If only…
As disappointing as the loss to the Dodgers was, fans can look back on the best Padres’ season in a long time.
Thanks for your comments.
Diane

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