Padres return for seven-game homestand against Nationals, Cubs

With a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners Wednesday night, the Padres ended their three-city, nine-game road trip with a 4-5 record.

Getaway win. Happy flight.

They return to San Diego one game over .500 (second in the National League West).

It’s a respectable place to be (especially this time of year) and quite honestly, it’s unfamiliar territory for the Padres, who are (ahem) used to slow, snail-pace starts in the months of April and May.

Still …

While 35 games on a 162-game season is a small sample size, it’s fair to say that the Padres arrive at Petco Park with some questions. Concerns, even.

Like:

**What will be the status of Wil Myers, who flew to San Diego Wednesday to have his wrist examined after experiencing soreness in Seattle? How about Yonder Alonso, who hasn’t yet resumed any baseball activities after suffering a bone bruise in his right shoulder a week ago? Myers has been arguably the most productive hitter in the lineup (along with Justin Upton) and any long-term absence would be a blow to this team. Alonso led the team in batting average before his injury sidelined him and is also a loss. Not to mention – how will this infield shake out? Third-basemen Will Middlebrooks and second-basemen Jedd Gyorko have both been battling slumps, and as much as we’d all like to clone Yangervis Solarte … we can’t. (At least not yet. I’m sure technology will allow us that ability soon. I digress.)

**What’s up with Matt Kemp? The outfielder, productive at the plate in the month of April with a .326 batting average, returns to San Diego with seven hits in his last 12 games (and a May average of .146). Is it his hips? Is it his timing? Is it just a simple lull?

**Will the Padres, who have been rumored to be in the market for an upgrade at shortstop, even consider Troy Tulowitzki, who may request (and be granted) a trade? Tulo comes with a $118 million price tag and a history of injuries. I say no way; others say differently.

**How about the pitching? The normally solid staff has given up more home runs than any team in Major League Baseball so far, and holds a collective ERA of 4.22 — 21st in the league. (If history is any indication, though, those numbers will improve. And if/when they do — should this offense stay strong — this team will be mighty dangerous.)

**Can these Padres put together wins over consecutive series? Will the offense, defense and pitching get on the same page?

Even though it’s early, a win is a win. While it’s true that intensity heats up after the All-Star Break, this team’s race for a wild card spot (assuming the Dodgers continue their success) might hinge on a handful of games. More importantly, simply finding a rhythm early – a strong winning streak – does wonders for confidence as players try to find their stride on a new team in a new season.

This next homestand – four against the red-hot Washington Nationals (19-16 and, um, Bryce Harper), three against the climbing Cubs (18-15) – will be tough. These Padres have talent, though, and general manager A.J. Preller designed them with these situations in mind. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.

“We haven’t quite hit our stride,” manager Bud Black told reporters after the game in Seattle. “We gotta sync it up. It’ll get there.”

Now is as good a time as any to start silencing the questions.

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