After a disappointing season and a possible rebuilding year looming for the Chargers, the Padres are in position to become San Diego’s premier sports team. After posting a 42-33 record in the second half of last season, there is hope that the Padres can carry the momentum from that strong finish into this season. The momentum, however, may be slowed by injuries and suspensions to the big bats in the Padres lineup. Chase Headley will miss most of April with a thumb injury and Carlos Quentin is coming off surgery to his troublesome knee. Yasmani Grandal will also be out of the lineup as he serves his 50-game performance enhancing drug suspension. Without these three power bats in the lineup, the Padres offense could be in trouble.
Fortunately, the Padres play in arguably the least hitters’ friendly park in the MLB and are unable to rely on the long ball for their run production anyway. This means that the Padres will have to play small-ball and rely on their pitching to keep them in games. Players like Cameron Maybin, Nick Hundley, Yonder Alonso and Will Venable will need to drive in runs until Headley and Grandal return and Quentin can return to full health. If they can hold down the fort until the big bats return to the lineup, the Padres will not only be competitive but will also have a chance to win the NL West. As long as the pitching and defense are solid and players throughout the lineup contribute every night, there is no reason that the Padres can’t compete with the World Champion Giants and new look Dodgers. Now that the regular season is only a few days away, its time for the Padres to suit up, take the field and play ball.