It was a key injury to a significant Padre and we’re surprised word didn’t leak either.
General manager A.J. Preller was recently idle for three weeks, and to his credit, he didn’t cry about to the press.
“Chipped a bone in my hip,” he said.
So while Preller’s beloved pickup basketball was a no-no for nearly a month, what’s his diagnosis on his third-place Padres?
San Diego (27-28) starts a seven-game road trip today in Cincinnati.
“If you would have told me we would be at .500 at this point, or a couple of games under, well yeah, I would have hoped we would have done better,” Preller said. “But with Matt Kemp having one home run and Wil Myers being on the disabled half the year and the staff giving up the most home runs…well at the very least we have a shot going forward to right some of those things.”
Going to his right is Preller’s strength in hoops and yep, he’s picking the Warriors to win the NBA title. But in asking Preller to play it straight, he’s not seeking the panic button.
“I think everyone wants to go 162-0,” Preller said. “That is one of the things I’m learning in this job — I don’t get too up or too down.” Meaning that’s not “A.J. from Encinitas” calling The Mighty 1090 shows, screaming into the phone to fire manager Bud Black after every loss.
“The nature of baseball is it is 162 games,” Preller said. “It’s a long year and you have to be able to ride out some streaks, hot and cold, and hopefully you are doing things to play consistent baseball, winning baseball. But that is definitely part of the job, ridding the ups and downs.”
So buckle up? Or kick back and cruise toward a successful run? Preller can make a dismal roster exciting but not even he has a crystal ball.
“You got to put together consistent stretch together and so for it’s been up and down, up and down,” Preller said, and he’s right with the Padres not winning three straight games. “Hopefully we can get on a good streak and play good baseball for a two-, three-week stretch. That is how you get some separation in the standings.”
Speaking of creating distance, is Black in trouble? Is his ninth season at the helm his last if the good ship Padre doesn’t find smooth waters?
Preller said there have been no internal discussion about canning Black. But he’s always evaluating everything about his club, between and outside the lines. But a surprising voice preached patience to Preller, a first-time general manager.
“My mom said ‘let these guys gel, you have a lot of new faces and take it day-to-day,'” Preller said.
Hopefully mother knows best. Does she have anything on a struggling Kemp?
That Kemp, hitting .247, has as many homers as San Diego and the Chargers have had meetings to build a stadium is troubling. It’s been a month of chasing balls off the plate, as Kemp looks as comfortable in the box as Preller does playing defense in the blocks.
Kemp wants to be The Man, but has to realize there are 24 others on the roster.
“We’ve got to get him to understand to just be a part of what is going on here,” Preller said. “If you look at last year at this point with the Dodgers, then his second half in Los Angels, that is something we are expecting to see pretty soon.”
Kemp’s 17 homers after last year’s All-Star game were more than any Padre hit all season. That Kemp still in there?
“He is adamant that he is fine, body-wise,” Preller said. “He has checked every box in terms of that.
“It’s the first time he had been traded in his career and he wants to show people what he can do and in some way that is a good thing. Hopefully he understands he is going to be here for a while and when he relaxes a little bit, we will see some good baseball out of him at some point.”
Preller can play point guard, but he rather shoot. He has a good shot and, he swears, so do the Padres.
“We’ve been inconsistent overall but we wanted to come out of it on June 1 and be in a spot we can make a run the rest of the year,” Preller said.
Preller had his rest, thanks to a bum hip. He’s confident the Padres’ bummer of a start isn’t indicator of what lies ahead.
He’ll take the Padres over 162 games.
And the Warriors in seven.