For the most part, Padres pitchers have not been swinging the bat during Cactus League play. Joe Musgrove bucked that trend in a big way on Sunday.
In his final Spring Training start Musgrove threw 5.0 no-hit innings, striking out six and walking two in a 3-3 tie with Cleveland. The Grossmont High School alum was better with a bat in his hands than the lineup he faced.
Musgrove also went 2-for-2 with a double, a single and two runs scored. As a hitter he batted .600 with a 1.400 OPS in exhibition games. Sure it was only in five at-bats but still, Joe takes his at-bats more seriously than most of his contemporaries.
“Yeah I’m a ballplayer, man. I can handle myself pretty well at the plate,” says Musgrove. “We had talked about not hitting at all today and just taking pitches or getting bunts down.”
Musgrove has been dealing with a wrist issue since the end of last season that led to an off-season fracture so manager Jayce Tingler has been hesitant to give him any plate appearances.
“I’ve been nursing this wrist back to health throughout the spring and it’s the point that it feels really good,” says Musgrove. “I’ve been hitting in the cages and I had to kind of plead my way in to letting me swing the bat there.”
Musgrove didn’t get to hit when he came up with the Astros but after being traded to the Pirates he says he fell in love with National League ball.
“I find it strange that some pitchers don’t like to hit because at some point everyone hit. That was everyone’s favorite thing to do as a kid. No one chose to play defense, everyone wanted to get a bat and swing,” says Musgrove. “I’ve never lost that little kid desire to play the field and swing the bat, run the bases.”
If Major League Baseball doesn’t change its mind and put the designated hitter back in the National League again this year the Padres should have an offensive advantage every time Musgrove starts on the mound.
Joe left with a 3-0 lead thanks to his offense contributions. He scored the first run of the game on a double by Fernando Tatis Jr. and run number three on a dacrifice fly by Pedro Florimon. That lead evaporated in the 7th inning.
Heralded prospect MacKenzie Gore threw a scoreless 6th in relief but gave up a 3-run home run to former Friar Josh Naylor to tie it 3-3. Gore’s Cactus League ERA sits at 4.91 and he’s almost certainly going to start the season in the minors.
The Padres have one last game, on Monday afternoon against the Rockies. Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack are scheduled to pitch before things start for real on Thursday at Petco Park against the Diamondbacks.
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