Padres Manager Bud Black walks off the last week after making a pitching… (Denis Poroy / Getty Images )
The San Diego Padres moved in the outfield fences this season, a nod to hitters frustrated when a home run anywhere else would be an out at Petco Park. In the Padres' first 10 home games, three balls that would have been outs last season went for home runs.
"All for the other guys," Padres Manager Bud Black said.
It's been that kind of start for the Padres, whose record through Friday was worse than any team other than the losing-by-design Houston Astros and Miami Marlins. The Padres have scored 3.3 runs per game at Petco — down from 3.8 last season, even with the changes.
They started the season with their best hitter, third baseman Chase Headley, on the disabled list. Outfielder Carlos Quentin just served an eight-game suspension; catcher Yasmani Grandal is due back next month from his 50-game suspension for taking a banned substance.
April is the roughest month for hitters in San Diego, with cooler weather amplifying the omnipresent marine layer. That should help the pitchers, but Padres starters have a 5.27 earned-run average, the highest in the National League.
Remember the brawl between Quentin and the Dodgers' Zack Greinke? The Dodgers won that game on a home run by Juan Uribe — one of the three home runs that would have been outs at Petco last season. The other two were hit by Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies — the only homer hit by Helton this year.
The most intriguing game this week could come Tuesday, when the Tampa Bay Rays visit Kansas City. The Royals' starter: James Shields, acquired last winter from Tampa Bay for perhaps the best hitting prospect in the minor leagues, outfielder Wil Myers.
Evan Longoria, the Rays' best player, said in spring training that the clubhouse was better without Shields, whom he said had been scarred by memories of losing in Tampa, with the old Devil Rays.
"It's kind of like a long-term girlfriend that you've gone through a lot of tough times with and you've had your good times," Longoria told the Tampa Bay Times, "but when stuff starts to go bad again then you just only remember the bad times."
The Rays have not had a losing season since 2007, but they're in fourth place in the American League East early this season. The Royals have not had a winning season since 2003, but they're in first place in the AL Central. Of the three starters the Royals added in winter trades — Shields and Wade Davis from Tampa Bay, Ervin Santana from the Angels — none has an ERA above 3.20.
Angels 2, StubHub 0
The Angels won in Sacramento last week, when a California Assembly committee killed legislation that would have prevented teams from putting any conditions on the resale of tickets. The bill was sponsored by StubHub.
However, that begged this question: Why did the Angels' radio broadcasts — on a team-owned station — feature commercials for StubHub? That is, why would the Angels criticize StubHub with one hand and accept advertising money from the company on the other hand?
The Angels explained it this way: They have a radio affiliation deal with ESPN, and the ad was sold by ESPN.
After they explained the ad, they killed it. The Angels have banished StubHub from their airwaves.
— Bill Shaikin