If the game is supposed to be fun, count Eric Hosmer in.
The San Diego Padres first baseman, who was widely reported to have nearly been traded in early April, says he’s “having fun playing baseball again.”
Hosmer entered Tuesday leading the majors with a .382 batting average, though the Padres’ game in Cleveland against the Guardians was rained out. The teams will play a traditional doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 1:10 Eastern.
“Certainly with Bob and all these teammates here, these guys make it fun,” Hosmer said, referring to manager Bob Melvin. “They’re a great group of guys. I know these guys have my back. I have their back. So, it definitely makes it a lot more fun to play.”
Teammate Manny Machado is mere percentage points Hosmer at .375, tied for second in the majors with Seattle’s J.P. Crawford. Machado’s 33 hits lead all of baseball.
Machado is hitting .350 in 32 career games (123 at-bats) against Cleveland, the highest mark among active hitters (minimum of 100 plate appearances, according to the Padres’ media-relations department). The third baseman has had an RBI in five consecutive games.
Guardians right-hander Zach Plesac (1-2, 3.80 ERA) will face former Cleveland right-hander Mike Clevinger, who is making his season debut, in the first game of the doubleheader.
Two former Padres’ first-round picks, right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-1, 3.27) of the Guardians and rookie left-hander MacKenzie Gore (2-0, 1.76) of the Padres will be on the mound in the second game.
Clevinger was traded to San Diego on Aug. 31, 2020, for six players.
“They may change uniforms, (but) we love the kid,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “They get traded. It doesn’t change how we feel about him. He’s a hard worker. He’s a free spirit. He’s fun to be round.”
Cleveland’s front office acquired Quantrill, designated hitter Josh Naylor, infielder Owen Miller and catcher Austin Hedges, among others, in the blockbuster deal.
Francona praised team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff for pulling off the trade.
“I get a chance to look at the inner workings of it,” he said. “I know how much time they put into it. These things don’t come to fruition in 10 minutes.
“No one rushes. They’ve earned our trust. We know they put the time in and the work in and get people’s opinions. They’ve looked at everything they can.”
Another key component in the deal, shortstop Gabriel Arias, broke a bone in his hand recently in Class AAA Columbus. Francona said he doesn’t have many details of the injury and that Arias has a doctor’s appointment Wednesday.
Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario was scheduled to be back in the lineup after missing the series against the Oakland Athletics with what Francona said was left wrist tightness.
Andres Gimenez filled in admirably in the A’s series and batted .367 (11-for-30) while playing in eight games of the Guardians’ 10-game road trip. He had four extra-base hits, a grand slam and eight RBIs.
As hot as Gimenez was, Franmil Reyes has been just the opposite. He was 2-for-32 in eight games on the trip with 21 strikeouts. Reyes, acquired from the Padres in 2019, has fanned in 17 of his last 23 plate appearances.
San Diego is in the midst of an eight-game, three-city road trip. The Padres have won five of the first six games.
Neither Plesac nor Quantrill has ever faced the Padres, and neither Clevinger nor Gore has ever faced the Guardians.
–Field Level Media