Padres Swept By Dodgers to Start Spring Training

Camelback Ranch–Glendale during spring training. Photo Credit to Cade Michaelson.

Baseball is officially back. This past week, Spring Training (MLB preseason) games started, with Southern California rivals, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, playing the opener.

The Padres are looking to bounce back from what was considered a disappointing season. After making it to the National League Championship Series in 2022, hopes were high for the 2023 season. They acquired perennial All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis Jr. was back from injury/suspension and it would be the first full season of Juan Soto and Josh Hader in San Diego. Alas, the Pads finished the 2023 campaign 82-80, missing the playoffs by two games. 

Now, the Padres are in a much tougher spot. Soto — whom they mortgaged four of their top five prospects for — is now a New York Yankee. Last year’s Cy Young winner and ace of San Diego’s staff, Blake Snell, is a free agent whom they most likely can’t afford. Josh Hader, arguably the best closer in the game right now, signed a five-year deal with the Houston Astros. Other notable losses include center fielder Trent Grisham and pitchers Seth Lugo, Nick Martínez and Michael Wacha. 

I say all of this to paint a picture of how the Padres look today. They’ve lost some key pieces but maintain a solid core, consisting of guys like Tatis Jr., Bogaerts and Manny Machado. This team wants to make a postseason run. 

The spring couldn’t have started much worse for the Friars, though. In the Spring Training league opener on Thursday, Feb. 22, the Dodgers put on a beatdown, winning 14-1. Joe Musgrove, whom many perceive as the ace of the Pads rotation, gave up two hits and four earned runs, not even recording an out before being pulled by manager Mike Shildt. The Dodgers proceeded to score four more in the first inning and didn’t look back from there. The Padres’ lone run of the game came on a Jake Cronenworth solo shot. 

The next day, the Padres had a chance to get redemption against Los Angeles, but failed to do so. They lost only 4-1 this time, but played none of their starters. 

Despite the rough two games, I wouldn’t worry about the big leaguers. It’s the first two games of February, and there will inevitably be rust to be shaken off. Guys like Musgrove and Tatis Jr. will figure it out. Spring Training for them is simply getting reps in before it really counts. 

I was far more intrigued in seeing some of the highly touted prospects and on-the-bubble guys play, as this is a chance to prove themselves in front of big league coaches. 

Ethan Salas, the Padres’ No. 1 prospect and 17-year-old phenom, struggled mightily as he went 0-3 with three strikeouts over the course of the two games. Jackson Merrill, the shortstop currently slated as San Diego’s No. 2 prospect, went 0-2 on Thursday. First baseman Graham Pauley went 0-2 with a strikeout in his appearance on Friday. 

Needless to say, nobody really showed up for the Padres. Besides Cronenworth’s homer and potential big league pitcher Matt Waldron’s two scoreless innings, there’s not much to be excited about. But rest assured, it’s only the third week of February, and there’s no need to overreact just yet.