San Diego manager Bob Melvin keeps searching for combinations that work, and the pursuit could continue Tuesday night when the Padres host the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a two-game series.
With the Padres' "big four" of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Juan Soto having started just two games together since May 16, Melvin has experimented with different leadoff hitters. Thus far, changes have yielded little success.
But that's just one of the problems facing Melvin.
Center fielder Trent Grisham is hitting .193. Melvin gave him a day off on Monday, moving Tatis from right field to center for the Padres' 5-0 win over the visiting Chicago Cubs.
Catcher Austin Nola has seen his average plunge to .131 and also is struggling to throw out runners. His offensive and defensive slumps led the Padres to make their first major move of the 2023 season, acquiring former All-Star catcher Gary Sanchez off waivers from the New York Mets on May 29.
Sanchez went 1-for-6 in just three games for the Mets, leaving him with a .195 average since the start of the 2020 season. However, he had hit 49 homers in 297 games during that span.
Melvin didn't have the highest of expectations.
"We were hoping to get offense or defense," the manager said.
Instead, the Padres are getting both.
Sanchez hit a two-run homer on Monday. In seven games with the Padres, he is 6-for-21 (.286) with three home runs and six RBIs. He has twice caught six shutout innings from Blake Snell. On Saturday, he caught seven shutout innings from Yu Darvish, who worked with a catcher other than Nola for the first time since Sept. 28, 2021.
"Sanchez has been unbelievable," Melvin said. "Offense, behind the plate, arm strength. It's been a quick learning curve. He has a track record.
"Recently, it hasn't been great for him. He's not an old guy. ... The talent is still there. This is a new chance. He knew coming here he was going to get some consistent playing time."
The Padres are aiming for more consistency as a team, as they have alternated losses and wins over their past eight games.
The Mariners, meanwhile, are coming off getting swept in a three-game weekend series against the host Texas Rangers, leaving Seattle with five losses in the past six games.
The Tuesday night series opener will match a pair of right-handers: Seattle's Logan Gilbert (3-3, 4.08 ERA) and San Diego's Joe Musgrove (3-2, 4.71).
Gilbert is coming off his worst start of the year. On May 30 in Seattle, the 26-year-old gave up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits (including two homers) in just four innings against the New York Yankees.
"Logan wasn't himself tonight," Mariners manager Scott Servais said after the Yankees snapped Gilbert's two-start winning streak.
During his sophomore season in 2022, Gilbert went 13-6 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.180 WHIP in 32 starts. His only two career outings against the Padres both came in 2022, and he went 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP.
Gilbert hopes to boost a Mariners team that has stumbled since a 6-1 run from May 22-28.
"We've got a bit of a break here with days off before and after the two games in San Diego," Servais said. "Three days off in an eight-day span gives us a chance to reset."
After a delayed start to the 2023 season, Musgrove seems to have found his groove with back-to-back road wins against the Yankees on May 26 and the Miami Marlins on Thursday. In those outings, he allowed a total of two runs (one earned) on nine hits and three walks with nine strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings.
Musgrove is 1-1 lifetime against the Mariners with a 6.65 ERA and a 1.652 WHIP. However, he hasn't faced Seattle since 2019.
--Field Level Media