Last weekend, Sean Manaea was preparing for his seventh season with the Oakland Athletics but a late spring-training trade reshaped his focus and refined his goals.
Instead, the left-handed Manaea will be taking the mound for San Diego on Friday night when the Padres face the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix in the second leg of the four-game series.
The 30-year-old Manaea is slated to become a free agent following the season. And with the Athletics in rebuilding mode, the approximate 500-mile move to San Diego might pale compared to the differences of each team’s season expectations.
“At this point, I’m all in with San Diego,” Manaea told reporters “The goal is, obviously, to win a World Series. Any way I can help.”
Manaea, who went 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts last season, will again be playing for Bob Melvin, the manager for all of his time in Oakland. Melvin left the Athletics after 11 seasons to guide the Padres.
Melvin didn’t need much prodding to sign off on the four-player deal in which San Diego sent two minor leaguers to Oakland.
“You see the durability, you see the numbers,” Melvin said. “He’s a terrific teammate. I’ve always called him ‘world’s best teammate.'”
Manaea is 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks. He will be looking to help the Padres bounce back from a devastating 4-2 loss on Opening Day.
Arizona was scoreless on just two hits entering the bottom of the ninth inning, but Padres right-hander Robert Suarez experienced a disastrous major league debut by walking two batters and hitting a third.
Veteran right-handed Craig Stammen entered and threw a wild pitch on his initial offering for the Diamondbacks’ first run and Seth Beer swatted the next pitch over the right-field fence to give Arizona the unlikely walk-off win.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about for a long time,” Beer said. “You have to take it all in as a rookie and enjoy it. You’re only a rookie on one Opening Day. To have a chance to play on Opening Day was a huge deal.”
Oh yeah, Beer was the hero on National Beer Day.
“That’s quite a finish on National Beer Day, right,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “You can’t beat the way it was scripted. Seth went up there prepared and executed as good as you can at the most crucial time in the game.”
Melvin didn’t have much of an answer when asked why Suarez’s debut came in a pressure-packed situation.
“We felt good going into the ninth,” Melvin said. “It just didn’t work out for us.”
In the offseason, San Diego decided against re-signing All-Star closer Mark Melancon, who is now with the Diamondbacks. The Padres made a move to shore up the bullpen prior to Thursday’s game by acquiring left-hander Taylor Rogers — a 2021 All-Star — from the Minnesota Twins in a four-player trade.
Melvin said Rogers will be the closer.
Right-hander Merrill Kelly will take the ball for Arizona and he’ll be seeking to continue his success against the Padres.
Kelly is 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 10 career starts against San Diego. The 33-year-old went 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three 2021 outings.
Overall, Kelly went 7-11 with a 4.44 ERA in 27 starts last season. He lost his last four decisions.
Still, the Diamondbacks recently signed him two a two-year, $18 million extension that also included a $7 million team option for 2025.
“There really isn’t just too many other places that I would want to play,” said Kelly, who attended high school in nearby Scottsdale and played one season of college baseball at Arizona State. “There weren’t too many other cities that really appealed to me that could draw me away from saying yes.”
San Diego’s Eric Hosmer is 9-for-26 with a homer against Kelly.
Arizona’s Ketel Marte is 5-for-13 versus Manaea.
–Field Level Media