Friday, February 15, 2013
Padres like direction team is headed in
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Chase Headley and the rest of the San Diego Padres' position players reported to spring training Friday. Few, if any, introductions were necessary.
"We kept the group that we had, and it was intentional," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "We have options on the young guys competing and, on the whole, we have our guys locked up beyond this season. If this group can play to its potential, like it did later in last year, it should be together for a while."
San Diego had an uneventful offseason, perhaps the quietest of all 30 major league teams. In fact, every position player expected to make the opening-day roster -- other than top-flight prospect Jedd Gyorko -- was on the squad last year.
Injuries plagued the Padres last season, with 19 players on the disabled list in the first half. The Padres got off to a 17-35 start, but they rebounded strong once healthy. San Diego went 42-33 after the All-Star break, when left fielder Carlos Quentin returned from a knee injury to help third baseman Chase Headley in his breakout year, and Everth Cabrera and Alexi Amarista, who added speed on the base paths.
The improvement was clear in wins and run production. The Padres were the worst offense in baseball in the first half (305 runs) and No. 11 in the second, with 346 runs (fifth in the National League).
The confidence gained during that late-season stretch remains this spring, untarnished by a flurry of big-money moves by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants while the Padres stood pat.
"You see what's going on around the division, and the activity was impressive in some respects," said Headley, who batted .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI last season. "But, honestly, we're not worried about what other teams are doing. If we play the way we're capable of, we're going to be just fine."
Familiarity was evident in team rapport, as position players prepared for their first official workout on Saturday.
"We have good clubhouse guys," Byrnes said. "We have guys that demand professionalism and accountability without being wound too tight. That's vital for a group to realize its potential. You have to root for each other, and be pulling rope in the same direction. We have guys that do that, and we wanted to keep it that way."
Byrnes did so by re-siging his own. Byrnes retained veteran leader Mark Kotsay, avoided arbitration with Headley and declined overtures to break up his offensive nucleus in trades.
Byrnes likes the offense in its current form. He likes the Padres' mix of power and speed. He likes his team's left-right balance and its ability to score in many ways.
"We want to be able to scratch out runs and hit a three-run bomb when it's necessary," Byrnes said. "We were looking for a roster that could do that, and I think we've found one."
Headley, for one, considers this season's lineup the deepest of his Padres career. He saw no need for big change and was happy to see so many familiar faces.
"When you're a middle-market team like we are, consistency becomes more important than in other places," Headley said. "You don't make changes just to change. If an upgrade makes sense, pull the trigger. But you shouldn't make a move just because. Since I've been here, we've been more successful when we haven't made major changes. I think it's a good sign that we didn't have to overhaul this roster."
NOTES: Highly-touted minor league outfielder Rymer Liriano will have Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in San Diego and miss the entire 2013 season. Liriano, the No. 3-rated prospect in the Padres farm system, should start hitting again in six months. He will be placed on the 60-day disabled list, which will open up a spot on the 40-man roster. . Padres right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner said he is two weeks behind schedule after injuring his throwing hand in an offseason hunting accident. He has yet to throw off a mound, but expects to be ready by opening day. Cashner spent time in the bullpen last season, but manager Bud Black expects him to compete for a spot in the starting rotation this season. . Jose DePaula reported to camp on Friday as the final pitcher to do so. . Team USA contacted Headley to gauge his interest in the World Baseball Classic should a roster spot come available. Although he doesn't expect a call-up, Headley said he'd be honored to join the squad. . The Padres will conduct their first full-squad workout on Saturday morning.