How much longer can the Padres keep Anthony Rizzo down?


14 homers, 56 RBI.

Those are Anthony Rizzo’s totals in 44 games for Triple-A Tucson so far.

And they’re totals Brad Hawpe may struggle to match if he spends the entire season as the Padres’ first baseman.

Rizzo actually has slowed down a bit of late.  He’s hit a mere .329/.415/.671 in May after dominating Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .400/.471/.744 line in April.

But even Rizzo’s bad splits are terrific.  He’s doing his best work at home in Kino Stadium, but he’s still hitting .340/.411/.660 in road games.  Of course the left-handed hitter is tearing up right-handers, but he’s hitting a fine .333/.364/.500 in 30 at-bats against southpaws.

And with 56 RBI in just 169 at-bats, it’s obvious he’s saving his biggest hits for when it matters.  11 of his homers have come with men on base.  He’s hitting .410/.474/.860 with runners on and .458/.521/.949 with RISP.

The Padres, meanwhile, have gotten a .224/.270/.367 line with six homers and 22 RBI in 196 at-bats from their first basemen.  Hawpe is on pace for 13 homers and 42 RBI at the moment.

To be fair, Hawpe is getting the job done at the moment.  He’s actually been very good this month.  But with Eric Hosmer having graduated, Rizzo has taken over as the game’s best first base prospect and he’s moved up his timetable in a big way with his huge start.  If Hawpe goes into another slump, it’s going to be very difficult for the Padres to resist the lure of calling him up.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.