Padres’ Bob Melvin ponders 6-man rotation, Opening Day starter

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres are flirting with the idea of beginning the season with a six-man pitching rotation.

Settling on an Opening Day starter, though, may not be as easy a decision for manager Bob Melvin.

With Joe Musgrove sidelined by a toe injury and Yu Darvish pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, Melvin is exploring options that could include Blake Snell or Michael Wacha.

Musgrove, who’s on the mend after dropping a weight on his left big toe, is set to throw a bullpen session.

And while he has made progress in his recovery since having the nail taken off the toe, there’s no guarantee he’ll ready for the March 30 opener against the Colorado Rockies.

If Musgrove doesn’t suffer a setback, though, there’s a chance he could be inserted at the rear of the proposed six-man rotation the Padres are considering because they are scheduled to begin the season with a stretch of 24 games in 25 days.

“It is pretty amazing to me, but since he got the nail taken off the pain has subsided. It will be a bullpen (Monday) and we’ll see where we go from there,” Melvin said.

“We don’t want to go too far and get a setback. If you are talking to him or talking to us, it’s a little different story. He’d be pushing the envelope for Opening Day,” Melvin added. “I still don’t think that will be the case. We want to make sure he’s not favoring it. He is going to fly back to San Diego to make sure he’s sound and not favoring it.”

Darvish figures to be worked into the back end of the rotation, too, because he is pitching for Japan in the WBC and potentially could start the deciding game on March 20.

“We’re not sure what his timetable will be. It would have been one or the other (for Opening Day),” Melvin said. “Everything has been fine with his workload. We have no problem with that. Once you embrace the fact that they are there pitching for their country, there are some issues that you can’t control.”

A day after recording his first hits for the Padres since 2021, Fernando Tatis Jr. was not in the lineup. He has a left knee contusion, however the Padres said it wasn’t serious and could play.


Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo didn’t make the two-hour trip south from Tampa, Florida, to face the Red Sox in Fort Myers, after being scratched from the lineup due to back pain.

The defending AL East champions don’t believe the problem is serious and think Rizzo could play again in the next few days. The left-handed hitting slugger has had recurring back problems during his career.

Rizzo, who received an epidural injection last season, conceded early in spring training that the back issues could continue.

“Anyone who’s had back pain, it kind of comes out of nowhere.” Rizzo said on Feb. 19. “You just do everything you can. This offseason, I really focused on recovery and feeling good the next day. I’d be crazy to sit here and say I won’t have a back issue this year because every year it seems like a little something pops up. But I definitely feel confident with my daily preparation.”

Rizzo hit .224 in 130 games last season, 41 points below his career average. He finished with 32 homers, 75 RBIs and a .338 on-base percentage.


New York Mets reliever Brooks Raley was removed from Team USA at the World Baseball Classic after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring. The left-hander has returned to spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The Mets do not consider the injury serious, however there’s no definitive timetable for Raley’s return.


Rule changes introducing a pitch timer, defensive shift restrictions and bigger bases for this year continue to draw favorable reviews from major league players, who say the rules are accomplishing a goal of speeding up the pace of games.

Entering Grapefruit and Cactus League play Sunday, 9-inning games were averaging just over two hours, 36 minutes, down from 3:00.46 last spring.

Meanwhile, teams collectively were batting .262, up from .243 last season. Runs per game were up, too, from 4.28 to 5.44.

“I think it’s been good. More action. Shorter games,” New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. “I’m not a huge fan of games ending on timing stuff, but I think that will get hashed out somehow.”


Cincinnati’s Joey Votto played in his first Cactus League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Votto had surgery to repair the biceps and the rotator cuff in his left shoulder on Aug. 19.

“I knew it was getting close. I could tell by his mood. Up until yesterday, I didn’t know what day it would be,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He was getting live at-bats. It is still one day at a time, but the exciting part is we still have two weeks in spring training camp.”

Votto missed the last 46 games of last season.

“I played in a couple sim games, but today there were no sim game options,” Votto said. “I didn’t want to go two days in a row without getting a live at-bat. It’s been about three years since I’ve had a full camp. I feel like I’m more prepared this year than I have been for a while.”

Spring training ended early due to COVID-19 in 2020, Votto was out with COVID in 2021 during spring training and last spring shortened by the CBA lockout.

“I’m going to need to accumulate some at-bats,” he said. “I’m not worried about one game (Opening Day). I have 162 games to think about. I want to come out and be healthy for as much of the season as possible. I’m not 100%, in terms of game speed and playing well, however, I feel closer to good health.

“It was a complicated surgery and it’s not easy to come back from. I’ve been in such good hands with the surgeons and physical therapists, strength coaches. I’ve had fantastic support. I am grateful for that. It is part of the experience of a professional athlete. You are going to get hurt. I didn’t view it as a setback.”


Adrian Sampson had a solid season as a starter for the Cubs last season, but he’s realistic about where he fits in the team’s plans this year.

Sampson started 25 games with the Cubs and finished with a 3.50 ERA in 138 2/3 innings. But the competition is heated with Marcus Stroman, Hayden Wesneski, Keegan Thompson, the return of Drew Smyly and newcomer Jameson Taillon. And then there’s Kyle Hendricks, due back in May after rehabbing an injured pitching shoulder.

Sampson’s numbers aren’t great this spring, but he was pleased after a four-inning outing against Milwaukee in Mesa. Luke Voit and Brice Turang hit back-to-back homers in the second for the Brewers, but considering Sampson gave up 10 runs in his first 4 1/3 innings over two starts this spring, he’ll take it.

“I was very happy,” Sampson said after allowing six hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out three.

“I want to keep going, throw more innings so my arm feels great and I’m ready to get competing,” Sampson said.

He hasn’t concerned himself with his status, figuring that even after exclusively starting for the Cubs last year, he could easily move to relief.

“I can’t control all that other stuff,” Sampson said. “Luckily for me, I can kind of do whatever they ask. I can come out of the bullpen, I can start, whatever they want. Having a chance to win is the most important part.”

Doval escapes in the 9th as Giants hold off Yanks 7-5

Getty Images

NEW YORK (AP) Camillo Doval retired Giancarlo Stanton on a game-ending, double-play grounder with the bases loaded and the San Francisco Giants hung on for a 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Doval gave up Aaron Judge’s RBI single in the ninth, the slugger’s third hit, but earned his first save when Stanton hit a ground ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play that withstood a video review. Second baseman Thairo Estrada made a low throw to first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr., who scooped the ball.

“Live and it looked before they paused, he kept it long enough,” Crawford said of Estrada. “LaMonte was definitely on the bag. I wasn’t too worried.”

There were four pitch clock violations, the most of any game in the first three days of the new rule. Two were by Doval in the ninth inning, and the Giants’ Taylor Rogers and the Yankees’ Albert Abreu had one each.

“We didn’t see any of that sort of thing in spring training,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “We saw a good mastery of it. This is a different environment and it’s understandable that things sped up a little bit, but no pitcher’s going to survive giving away balls like that. It doesn’t matter how good you are.”

New York’s Anthony Volpe got his first two big league hits and became the first Yankees player to steal a base in each of his first two games since Fritz Maisel in 1913. No major leaguer had accomplished the feat since Billy Hamilton in 2013.

But the 21-year-old shortstop also had Estrada’s RBI single carom off his glove as the Giants scored twice in the sixth inning for a 5-3 lead.

New York built a 2-0 lead helped by pitcher Alex Cobb’s throwing error and Stanton’s first home run, a 112 mph drive to the opposite field down the right-field line. But the Yankees went 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runs as the Giants rallied.

Joc Pederson hit a solo homer and Crawford hit a two-run drive in a three-run fourth against Clarke Schmidt, the first home run for the Giants on a 3-0 pitch since Buster Posey in the 2021 NL Division Series.

Crawford went 3 for 5 with a double and scored twice to go along with a stolen base. It was the second time in his career he a three-hit game with a double, homer, two runs scored and a steal.

“It was a good day. I guess my best game of the year so far,” Crawford said with a laugh.

Anthony Rizzo’s RBI double off Jakub Junis (1-0) tied it 3-3 in the fifth, and the Giants scored two runs in the sixth without hitting a ball out of the infield.

Wade Jr. hit a go-ahead RBI single when his soft hit went to the third base side of the mound, and David Villar scored the go-ahead run when Michael King (0-1) and catcher Jose Trevino converged and could not make a throw. King was making his return from a broken elbow last July 22.

After King struck out Michael Conforto, Estrada hit a liner to Volpe, who charged in and had the ball go off the heel of his glove. Volpe was unable to get the force at second as Crawford scored to put the Giants up 5-3.

“It was a tough one,” Volpe said. “Probably keep me up at night thinking about that. I definitely feel like I should have had it. It was on me.”

Josh Donaldson homered in the eighth off Rogers, three innings after the crowd booed Donaldson for taking a called third strike that stranded two runners.

Mike Yastrzemski added an RBI double and Crawford hit a run-scoring single in a two-run ninth off Clay Holmes.

STARTERS Schmidt allowed three runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings. Schmidt threw a cutter that he added in the offseason 27 times, including three straight to Pederson for a strikeout in the first.

Cobb gave up two runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM Giants: C Joey Bart (back tightness) was a late scratch. Kapler said Bart tweaked his back in batting practice.

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (right lat strain) threw Friday and Saturday and felt good. … OF Harrison Bader (left oblique strain) took swings in the pool Friday and Saturday and could take swings in a cage next week. … RHP Lou Trivino (right elbow strain) threw off a mound Friday.

UP NEXT New York RHP Jhony Brito makes his major league debut Sunday against San Francisco RHP Ross Stripling. — AP MLB: and