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.
The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.
The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.
Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.
The matchups for Tuesday’s action:
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.
Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.
The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.