The Day After: Five Positives from Opening Day
You can look at yesterday’s 14-3 as an absolute embarrassment of a day. I can’t blame you for that, but don’t shun the game as whole. The entire Padres payroll ($34.5 million) is one million dollars less than what ace, Clayton Kershaw, is going to make this season. The Dodgers outspend the entire league, and the Padres hardly have any money to shell out currently. So relax. Plenty of good things happened yesterday, and as we wait for tonight’s game to start, let’s look at five positives from Monday.
With a young roster, there are going to be plenty of guys on the field with jitters and butterflies. In fact, seven Padres who played yesterday had never been a part of an Opening Day game. So on the biggest stage of the year for the Padres, in Los Angeles, in front of 55,000+ fans, seven players took the field on opening day for the first time and got those opening day nerves brushed off; Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Luis Torrens, Miguel Diaz, Jose Torres, and Allen Cordoba– all young guns with huge potential upside. Manuel Margot showed off his bat with a double to deep right center that drove in Jankowski for a run. Hunter Renfroe had an 0 for 4 night, but showed off his speed and ability to cover in the outfield. He also showed off his arm as he gunned a sacrifice fly ball from deep right field all the way to home. Despite the fact he should have hit a cut-off man, he showed that he has the arm strength to launch the ball from right to home.
If you didn’t see Rule-5 Miguel Diaz pitch Monday afternoon, well then you missed out. He threw 1.1 hitless innings, walked no one, and struck out one batter. I’d say that’s pretty impressive for a guy who has never pitched above low-A ball. Especially when he is pitching against the huge bats that the Los Angeles Dodgers carry. He also showed off just how nasty his pitches can be with some of his amazing movement. He hit 98 on the gun with his two-seam fastball and he struck out Joc Pederson, who had hit a grand slam earlier in the ball game. Overall, a very impressive outing for the Rule-5.
Miguel Diaz, 98mph 2 seam movement. ? pic.twitter.com/BGF7DxTXTd
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2017
Continuing with some of the Rule-5 draft picks, manager Andy Green was able to get all three picks from this year into the game. You saw above how Miguel Diaz handled his appearance. Luis Torrens, the Rule-5 out of NYY, got a chance in the batters box and behind the plate as he became the 361st Venezuelan to make an appearance in the major leagues. He ended the day 0 for 1 batting, but he got to get his taste in both the batter’s box and behind the plate in the majors, which was a huge step for him as he hasn’t played in any games above high-A ball in his career. Allen Cordoba, the Rule-5 out of STL, has even less experience than all the other Rule-5’s. He has never played any baseball above the rookie level, yet Monday afternoon he found himself in a major league batter’s box. He pinch-hit in the top of the 8th with no outs and popped up a high fast ball behind first base. It’s going to be a long year for the 21 year-old, but we can just hope his confidence stays high and the Padres keep him motivated.
The Bethancourt Project
Christian Bethancourt made his pitching debut after officially being moved to the mound. It didn’t get off to a good start, but it did get started. Last year we saw Bethancourt pitch a few meaningless innings as a catcher, but this year his innings mean so much more. As the Padres continue to work with Bethancourt in becoming a super-utility player, his progress on the mound matters the most. Bethancourt’s first pitch was a wild one that brought the Dodgers’Andrew Toles sliding home to score. The only problem, Bethancourt’s leg was slid out across home plate as well, so he received an unintentional spike from Toles that ripped his pants and scarred up his leg. Luckily there was no injury to our super-player and Bethancourt made his way back to the mound. He later threw another wild pitch (his third overall pitch) that brought in Justin Turner from third. Both wild pitches curved low and inside towards the left-handed Adrian Gonzalez. Bethancourt ended the day with 1 1/3 innings pitched, allowing three runs on three hits, and two walks. He also got around to the plate to bat and ripped the first pitch he saw towards the outfield wall that just barely went into foul territory. He later struck out. Although it didn’t get off to the best start, the Bethancourt Project took a huge step today.
Ryan Schimpf had an astronomical season last year with the Padres. However, many were skeptical about how he would perform this season. Actually many, if not most, believed that his numbers would dip tremendously. He ended the day 2 for 4 with a home run and he legged out an infield single. Last year it seemed to be extra-base hit or nothing for Shimpf, so it was nice to get a little taste of his power and his ability to reach base on an infield hit. I know, I know. It was just one game and shouldn’t really mean much, but he did manage to hit that home run off of Clayton Kershaw, who was killing the Padres all game prior to that.
Despite the huge loss and embarrassing effort by the pitching staff, the Padres showed a lot of promise for the future, and I don’t know about you, but the things I talked about above get me excited for what’s to come!
Derek is a 22-year-old out of Lemon Grove, California. A burning passion for San Diego sports led him to pursue an opportunity to write and share about what’s going on with the teams in America’s Finest City. A young and aspiring sports journalist looking to grow his knowledge and expand his experience at any opportunity.