It never gets old. This is the 26th time I’ve been to spring training, and it still brings forth in me feelings of anticipation, optimism, and curiosity as to what untapped potential will be revealed. Everything is fresh. Everything is positive. Anything is possible. Even the cold and rain that pounded the practice fields for hours on Saturday, canceling all workouts and games couldn’t dampen the sense of promise.
All that being said, the reality is only 25 of the nearly 60 players in Padres camp will break with the team. Some decisions are already made. Some fates are yet to be decided…but few. The Padres don’t have a lot of positions that are up for grabs. In fact I doubt there are any truly open spots for 13 position players, assuming everyone stays healthy and no one completely falls apart. The pitching staff is a different story with the fifth spot in the rotation up for grabs, and several spots in the bullpen that will be fought for.
Overall I am very impressed by several things I saw, or sensed in the early going. First, EVERYONE looks to be in shape and ready to compete for a job – even if they don’t have to. There doesn’t seem to be any complacency. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say I was amazed at how focused and committed each guy seemed to be on working on the things that he needs to improve upon to become better player. I saw at least five different players that went out of their comfort zone during the game today versus the Rockies, working on things to make themselves better.
One of the easiest traps for players who make it to the big leagues, or at any level for that matter, is to keep working on the things they are already good at. Why frustrate yourself practicing things you aren’t good at, right? Much easier and instantly gratifying to keep doing what you can already do so well, and has helped you achieve a certain level of success. This can be a career halting stumbling block. I’ve seen it end or stunt many promising careers. So, to see these Padre players, both the young and the experienced, willing to take to heart what the coaching staff has told them to work on, and challenge themselves by going out of their comfort zones to make themselves better players is encouraging to say the least.
Good attitudes, good work ethics, good chemistry, all seem to be present in this camp. It leaves me looking forward to seeing more, and as excited as ever to see what deeper talent and purpose may lie within this 2010 team.