The strongest portion of this Padres team has been weakened.
The ripple it causes is almost certainly going to be less disruptive than it would be for almost any other team.
But one starting pitcher and a long reliever being on the COVID injured list — with a doubleheader thrown in this past weekend and no off day for two more weeks — means some shuffling is necessary and leaves the Padres more vulnerable should further issues arise.
With Mike Clevinger out, it appears every other starter will be moved up a day. Nick Martinez pitched Saturday, Blake Snell on Sunday and Yu Darvish on Monday, and Sean Manaea is scheduled to start Tuesday. Joe Musgrove expects he will start Wednesday, though the team has not announced that.
Musgrove would be the only one to go on four days’ rest, which is standard most years but has become short rest for the Padres in 2022. The team has embraced its abundance of starters by using a six-man rotation. That has meant five and even six days between starts the majority of the season. No Padres pitcher has gone fewer than five days between starts since Musgrove did it May 1.
“We’re normally prepared to go on that normal rest,” Musgrove said Monday at Wrigley Field. “So just adjust the plan a little bit between just to keep yourself fresher. Back off the lifts a little bit, back off the throwing a little bit. But I don’t know. I mean, we haven’t done it in a while.”
Manager Bob Melvin has felt comfortable letting his starters go longer in games with the knowledge they will get an extra day or two to recover. The Padres’ 35 quality starts as of Monday were six more than any other team. Starters who at first were not thrilled with the move to six starters have embraced and grown accustomed to the new routine.
“Hopefully it won’t be too long,” Musgrove said. “It’ll be maybe just this time around and hopefully we’ll be able to get back on a six-man (rotation). I love the six-man. I’ve really come to like it this year, just having that extra full day of rest and recovery.”
The Padres are also without reliever Adrian Morejón, who is the other pitcher on the COVID IL. Melvin and bench coach Ryan Christenson are also in COVID protocols. Those three and Clevinger remained in San Diego when the team traveled here Sunday night. It is not known when they will rejoin the team.
The Padres are carrying eight relievers, and Reiss Knehr is on the trip as a member of the taxi squad. Knehr threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief Saturday and presumably could be activated as soon as Thursday if the Padres had another player go on the IL.
Monday’s game was the Padres fifth in four days, and their next day off is June 27.
There were some shiny never-used bats with Fernando Tatis Jr.’s name engraved in the barrel packed for this trip.
The hope is he can use one of them as soon as Tuesday.
Tatis had a CT scan Monday, and if the results show enough healing in his surgically repaired left wrist, the star shortstop can begin swinging a bat.
That will at first be swings against air, progress to hitting off a tee and then soft toss before he hits in a cage. He would then hit against live pitching. The final step will be a rehab assignment.
The Padres have said the duration of his ramp-up to making his season debut will depend on how he progresses through each step. But it is possible he could be ready in as little as three weeks.
Almost every day for the past week, Padres starting pitchers have taken part in pregame workouts while wearing white, brown and gold basketball jerseys with their name and number on the back. They were a gift from Musgrove.
“It’s something that’s fun,” Musgrove said. “And I think they’re sick jerseys.”
Musgrove ordered them from a company called Freestyle Cut & Stitch, and it is the latest of many efforts he has made to bring members of the rotation closer.
“He does a lot of cool stuff for us,” Martinez said. “… It’s the little things to bring us together. It shows that we’re pulling for each other. We’re not just lone wolves. We know that when we each do our thing how special it can be for everybody. I would say this whole team is very special. But how tight we are as a team, our starters are pretty tight.”
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