The Padres’ sleeper status in the NL West has already taken a hit: center fielder Cameron Maybin will miss 2-3 months with a ruptured biceps tendon he suffered making a diving catch in Sunday’s game.
The injury comes after Maybin was limited to 14 games last season with wrist and knee injuries. So, the Padres are used to playing without him. Nevertheless, he is easily their best defensive center fielder and he’s had his moments offensively, too, though his chronic wrist troubles have taken away from his game there.
With Maybin out last year, the Padres divided up playing time in center between Alexi Amarista (53 starts), Will Venable (52 starts) and Chris Denorfia (36 starts), with prospect Reymond Fuentes (seven starts) getting a look in September. Fuentes is the only one from that group who can hang with Maybin defensively. Amarista has the most range, but also the weakest bat, of the veterans.
The Padres will likely now give Fuentes a chance to make the team this spring. He had been ear-marked for Triple-A after spending most of last year in Double-A and hitting .330/.413/.448 in 400 minor league at-bats. If Fuentes makes the team, he could start in center against right-handers. If not, then it could be Venable in center and Denorfia in right most of the time. The Padres also have Seth Smith and Kyle Blanks as right-field options with Venable sliding over, but an outfield that starts Carlos Quentin in left, Venable in center and either Smith or Blanks in right would be pretty brutal defensively.
People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.
That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”
The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.
In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?
The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.
My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.
If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.
Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.
So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?