Picking up where he left off last season, San Diego Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner looked to be in mid-season form in his first start of the spring against the Seattle Mariners. Pitching two scoreless innings while allowing only one hit, striking out two Mariners and walking none, Cashner continues to make his case as the clear-cut ace of this Padres staff. Throwing 18 of his 32 total pitches for strikes, Padres manager Bud Black, though he might not admit it this early in the spring, has to know that we all were watching the Padres’ pitcher most deserving of the Opening Day start today.
A wise follower of baseball knows that it is not smart to put much stock into Spring Training performances, good or bad, but given the fact that some of the best pitchers in all of MLB have gotten hit around the ballpark in their first appearances this spring — you can’t help but feel good about the first look at Cashner in 2014.
While Cashner looked to be in mid-season form, the rest of the team was definitely still in Spring Training mode. After only mustering five hits while committing four errors in a 7-1 loss to the Mariners in the Cactus League opener, the Padres bounced back with an eerily similar performance producing another five-hit, one-run performance in today’s 12-1 loss. Their two errors upped the team’s total to six in just two games.
To the Padres’ credit, the batting order was mostly made up of prospects, with many seeing their first action of the spring. Padres second-base prospect Cory Spangenberg shined the brightest, going 1-for-2 at the plate while drawing a walk. Spangenberg also looked pretty good on the defensive side of the ball.
As mentioned before, Cashner allowed only one hit in his two innings of work; the fact the team gave up 18 total hits in the game lets you know how the rest of the Padres’ pitchers fared. Similar to the batting order, the Padres sent mostly prospects to the mound on Friday, with pitchers Tim Stauffer and new-comer Joaquin Benoit being the only true vets seeing action. Making his Padres’ debut, Benoit pitched one scoreless inning while striking out one in the process.
In another performance of note, Padres pitcher Joe Wieland had a rough return from Tommy John surgery as he allowed four hits and four runs in 0.2 innings of work. Struggles of this sort are to be expected in this situation; what counts is that he is back on the mound.
The Padres clearly have a lot of rust to knock off early on. While Cashner pitched excellent today, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has his moments of struggle somewhere down the line this spring as well; it’s Spring Training — it happens. Don’t panic, Padres fans, the team won’t always look this bad. The purpose of spring is to get into the swing of things, and the Padres will do just that in due time.