The Coast News Group

Jay Paris: Padres are down but not out of the mild, mild NL West

Where to start with the Padres?

They’re playing under .500, their opening day starter sits on the shelf, four infielders are hurt and being shut out is a troubling trend.

At home, they’ve lost 11 of 19. On the road, they’re greeted by opposing clubs.

April has turned to May and despite June being around the corner this missive brings no gloom.

OK, a little.

But the Padres return home Tuesday against the Giants with a tall tale to digest: San Diego, despite all of the above, is border-line relevant.

Not that the national baseball talking heads are yapping about the Padres. Although Rancho Santa Fe’s James Shields got plenty of face time after surrendering that mind-boggling home run to the ageless Met, Bartolo Colon.

Indeed the Padres are down, but they’re not out. Considering where the calendar rests in this All Star season, that’s a good thing.

The Padres have holes and that’s obvious. But what was clear at season’s beginning — that the NL West was loaded — hasn’t held true.

Everyone was going to lap the Padres as they hung their shingle in a dicey location: between rebuilding and being competitive. Most teams choosing that roster mix of uncertainty have a tough go.

The Padres have followed that script.

But what didn’t unravel as planned was the division being something special. Instead it’s average, at best, which is beneficial for the middling Padres.

Manager Bruce Bochy brings his Giants in next week and that deserves a shrug. We get the even year deal about winning a World Series and San Francisco bought in by buying pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.

But the G-men have been on the wrong side of the ledger for most the season.

The Diamondbacks were the cool pick back in the heat of the Cactus League.

Adding pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller was going to raise Arizona and just you watch.

It didn’t happen with the Diamondbacks winning as many as they lose.

The Dodgers presented their high-priced payroll but playing even-steven isn’t getting much bang for your buck. We enjoy watching Cardiff’s Dave Roberts as the manager, but the pitching staff is basically Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and the crossing of fingers.

Which circles us back to the Padres — and they haven’t done everything wrong, under new manager Andy Green.

Starters Drew Pomeranz and Colin Rea, despite stubbing their toes, have been impressive.

The defense is light years better with veteran shortstop Alexei Ramirez and center fielder John Jay.

The bullpen’s back end, for now, is in good hands with Fernando Rodney.

Matt Kemp and Wil Myers are producing at a pace that if they stay healthy, both will have solid seasons.

How many of those players are here — including Tyson Ross, his bum shoulder willing — after the trading deadline will be determined.

But if the Padres can hang around the up-and-down pack, at least it’s a summer not restricted to saluting the All-Star Game.

Maybe most important is this: each day that passes, that’s one more day the Padres’ prospects develop. They’re the real cavalry at some point, an arrival that can’t come too soon.

There’s also a bounty of draft picks in June and we’re promised a collection of international prospects to be signed in July.

But first it’s May and we know that brings flowers.

We’re happy to delay throwing them on the Padres’ grave, even if they reside near the cellar.

While the Padres have disappointed, they aren’t dead yet in the mild, mild NL West.

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