Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Series preview: Mets at Padres
By Adam Rubin
USA TODAY SportsMETS (45-50, third place/NL East) vs. SAN DIEGO PADRES (41-54, third place/NL West)
The Mets open the second half facing Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Odrisamer Despaigne in San Diego.
Friday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.47), 10:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (4-1, 2.56) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (7-10, 2.85), 8:40 p.m. ET
Sunday: RHP Zack Wheeler (5-8, 3.90) vs. RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (2-1, 1.35), 4:10 p.m. ET
Padres short hops
• The Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes on June 22 and are currently being led by Omar Minaya, A.J. Hinch and Fred Uhlman Jr. in an interim capacity. The reported list of interviewees who remain under consideration to succeed Byrnes include former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, Diamondbacks director of scouting Ray Montgomery, MLB senior VP Kim Ng, Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller and Padres assistant GM Josh Stein.
• Padres legend Tony Gwynn died June 16. The team’s uniforms now include a patch featuring a No. 19 inside the logo of a home plate, which is being worn over the players’ hearts. The team already had a patch recognizing Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who died Jan. 5 at age 89.
• Although neither pitched, right-hander Tyson Ross and closer Huston Street represented the Padres at Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Street actually was selected late to replace Ross, who started San Diego’s first-half finale and was ineligible.
Ross, 27, became the first Padres starting pitcher selected to the team since Jake Peavy in 2007. In his final five starts of the first half, Ross posted a 1.75 ERA and opponents had only a .229 OBP against him. He nonetheless went 1-4 during that stretch. Since June 6, the Padres have scored a total of eight runs in his eight starts.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ross has induced an MLB-high 164 swings and misses with his slider this season. He throws the pitch 39.4 percent of the time, also the most in the majors among qualified pitchers.
• The Padres rank last in the majors in runs (279), average (.214), OBP (.273) and slugging percentage (.334). They lost consecutive 1-0 games to the Los Angeles Dodgers to close the first half. San Diego’s pitching has been stellar, though. In 24 games since June 18, the staff has produced a 2.08 ERA.
Lenny Ignelzi/Associated PressSeth Smith signed a two-year, $13 million contract extension.
• San Diego signed outfielder Seth Smith to a two-year, $13 million extension that includes a $7 million team option for 2017. He otherwise would have been eligible for free agency this offseason and would have been traded this month. Smith, 31, was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in December for reliever Luke Gregerson. He is hitting .283 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs and has a .387 OBP this season.
• Third baseman Chase Headley, who is eligible for free agency this winter, should be on the move by the end of the month. The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly are among the teams interested. Headley is earning $10.5 million in 2014. Although he is hitting only .226 for the season, the 30-year-old Headley does have a .327 average with one homer and six RBIs in 12 starts in July. Headley told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the production uptick coincides with a grip adjustment with his bat in which the fingers overlap. Headley used that grip for most of his career before abandoning it. “It’s just an overlap,” he told the newspaper. “Not a golf grip, but similar.”
• Left fielder Carlos Quentin is hitting .145 (8-for-55) with one homer since June 17.
• Ian Kennedy has 133 strikeouts, trailing only Washington’s Stephen Strasburg (149) and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (141) in the National League. Kennedy’s strikeout total was the second-most in franchise history before the All-Star break. Andy Benes had 138 strikeouts in the first half in 1994. The Los Angeles Angels reportedly are interested in acquiring Kennedy, who is under San Diego’s control for another season.
• Second baseman Jedd Gyorko (plantar fasciitis) and shortstop Everth Cabrera (hamstring) closed the first half on the disabled list.
• Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne, 27, has a 1.35 ERA in four starts since making his major league debut on June 23. His fastball averages 90.7 mph and cutter averages 87.1 mph. He defected in June 2013 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris while the Cuban team was en route to a tournament in the Netherlands. He received a $1 million bonus to sign with the Padres on May 2.