Soccer at Petco? Padres far from thrilled


The San Diego Padres are probably the most surprising team in baseball. They’re leading the NL West by six games and have the third best record in baseball, behind only the Yankees and Rays.

Yet they aren’t getting a lot of respect for their accomplishments, not even from their own management.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Petco Park will host a soccer friendly between Mexican club Chivas and MLS club Chivas USA on Sept. 14 while the Padres are on a road trip.

The mound will have to be removed, and the grass will likely get chewed up, which sounds like a horrible idea when your team relies heavily on pitching and defense. Padres president Tom Garfinkel isn’t concerned, saying “We have a great grounds crew. We have (10) days before our next home game and they’re confident they can put the mound back exactly as it was, so our pitching staff won’t even notice the difference.”

But the players, including closer Heath Bell, aren’t very happy:

“Let’s see, they held a concert during Comic-Con and killed the grass in left (field),” Bell said. “OK, so let’s go to a soccer match. We’re in a pennant race. Much of the nation will probably be seeing us for the first time. Shouldn’t we be trying to put our best foot forward?

“They’re not worried about the field looking good. They’re just trying to make a profit. Very interesting … I’m sure Luke (Yoder) and his (grounds) crew will make it right, but we have the best pitching staff in the major leagues and that mound is our office. It should not be messed with at this time of the season.”

I understand Bell’s concerns. The Padres have a good thing going and it seems like folly to mess with it in any way. But I doubt this will be much of an issue. It’s not like the old days when the Padres shared a stadium with the Chargers. Back then, the Padres had to deal with a worn outfield, and the Chargers had to deal with tackling – and be tackled — on the infield dirt.

With the long break between home games and the fact the Padres are building a nice cushion in the NL West, I’m guessing Bell and the others will find this to be a non-issue.

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NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.