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Jay Paris: Back to Padres baseball

The local nine has produced a local whine and welcome to Padres baseball.

Things change in baseball, they always do. The Padres will shine soon, and their scores will no longer resemble those seen on NFL Sundays.

But there were few fun days in the opening week, with the big, bad Dodgers flexing their payroll and muscle.

When a “Beat L.A.” chant sounds like a dream instead of a mission that tells the story.

The tale of this year’s Padres has many chapters to come. But the forward was telling: this All-Star summer could be an All-Around bummer.

The Midsummer Classic is at Petco Park and it’s obvious. Banners, signs and fresh coats of paint give a hint of what’s in store.

Sadly it’s between the lines where there’s much touch-up work needed. One would have to be dumb and dumber not to decipher that.

For the offense to produce, it will have to lean on small ball or Green Ball or whatever clever theme new skipper Andy Green can come up with.

This lineup isn’t built around the long ball. If there’s a Padre who’ll finish with 25 homers in it, I’ve been fooled.

But a club doesn’t have to find the bleachers with regularity to win. The Royals proved that in claiming the World Series.

Instead the Padres have to slap a single here, pick up an extra base there and then tag up, steal or hoodwink someone to reach home.

John Jay is leading off and we’re hoping his game doesn’t pick up where it was last year. He hit .210 in an injury-marred season for the Cardinals.

He looks fit and there’s probably few other Padres more important this season. He has to set the tone by reaching base and putting the Green Ball wheels in motion. With Cory Spangenberg batting behind him, that’s two shifty guys to have on the move.

It’s the middle of the lineup, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers that have to do the heavy lifting.

Kemp still has star power and the Padres hope there’s some thunder in his bat, too.

Myers is healthy and if he can stay right to get 600 at-bats, his smile could grow — and that’s saying something.

The lineup’s bottom half will be challenged to make noise, instead it’ll be asked to take situational hitting to another level.

The rotation sounds like a band: Three Aces and the Question Marks.

Tyson Ross, James Shields and Andrew Cashner have top-of-the-rotation weapons and if the Padres are to stay above .500, they must deliver. The back-end could cause some to duck-and-cover, but many a pitcher has blossomed at Petco under coach Darren Balsley.

The defense is better, and yeah, we saw Jay and Kemp’s curious routes to fly balls in Tuesday’s loss, too. But shortstop Alexei Ramirez can pick it and Jay will find his feet in center.

But it’s the fans’ hands that didn’t get much work in the season’s opening stages. The Padres broke their champagne bottle across the bow of the season by going 18 innings without a run.

We realize Clayton Kershaw is this era’s Sandy Koufax.

We know soft-throwing lefty Scott Kazmir can baffle hitters, too.

But 18 innings of goose eggs? The Padres laid a big one in the first week.

This team, to be fair, is shooting for fair. It’s not going to contend in the rugged NL West and that’s just truth and reality converging on the same street corner.

This year is about 2017 and beyond and that’s not a typo. There’s some interesting pieces down on the farm, but they need experience.

Then there’s the three high picks the Padres have in this summer’s amateur draft. Combine that with a boatload of money to spend on international players.

The Padres’ brass talks about sustainability and to produce that takes time. Trouble is, frustrated Padres fans have sat through five straight losing seasons and have the patience of a drill sergeant with a clueless recruit.

So the Padres will stand tall and ask others to keep the faith. It’s a familiar refrain that rolls into town like summer tourists.

But at least baseball is back. Unfortunately, the Padres are back to being the Padres.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.

1 comment

Phil April 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm

There couldn’t be a more spot-on write up. Just wish the owners of the Padres read it. This team is borderline pathetic. Another year of failed dreams?

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