SAN DIEGO (AP) — Seth Smith and Chase Headley homered, and Yonder Alonso hit a three-run double to lead the San Diego Padres to a 9-8 victory against the Cleveland Indians in their spring training finale Saturday at the University of San Diego’s Fowler Park.
Now it’s on to the regular season. The Padres host their biggest rival, the defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, in baseball’s North American opener Sunday night. The Indians open at Oakland on Monday night.
“As competitive as we are, you want to win at ping pong, tiddlywinks, exhibition baseball, you want to win,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “NCAA pools; you want to win them.”
The Indians routed the Padres 16-4 Friday night.
“We’re ready for tomorrow,” Black said. “Our guys did a good job of preparing the last week to get ready. Spring training gets a little long, obviously, for guys who’ve been there the whole time and stayed healthy and are grinding through. I think once you get about a week away, guys see a light at the end of the tunnel and change their mindset a little bit.”
Cleveland’s Matt Carson hit a three-run homer and a two-run drive. Jason Kipnis hit a solo shot.
The Indians won 92 games last year before losing 4-0 to Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card game.
“We have a pretty versatile team and that helps,” manager Terry Francona said. “You prepare. Once I’m prepared I can sit back and get into the game.”
Indians: Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, scheduled to start the home opener Friday, allowed six runs – five earned – and seven hits with five strikeouts in five innings. He gave up Alonso’s bases-clearing double in the third and Headley’s opposite-field homer to left-center in the fifth.
Padres: Left-hander Eric Stults held the Indians to one run and one hit in four innings. He’s scheduled to start at Miami on Friday night.
“Stultsy pitched well his last three starts,” Black said. “He’s mixed his pitches; he’s pitching like he would in the regular season.”
Padres: As expected, left fielder Carlos Quentin, who’s making $9.5 million this year, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left knee. Also going on the DL were right-hander Josh Johnson (forearm) and center fielder Cameron Maybin (left biceps).
Francona is entering his second season as Cleveland’s manager.
“It should be enjoyable,” he said. “Look at the guys we’ve seen get better right before your eyes, like (Corey) Kluber and (Zach) McAllister and Salazar. That’s what was so exciting going down the stretch last year. We were doing it with guys that had never been there. Heck, Danny began at Double-A. It was fun because they didn’t shrink, they welcomed it. It was fun.”
Francona said there’s plenty the Indians can carry over into this year.
“Take the experience, take the positives,” he said. “When it will help is when you’re punched in the stomach – and it will happen – we’ll know deep down we are good enough to battle back.”
Both games at Fowler Park were sellouts (2,648). Tickets were priced from $20 to $40.
“We learned a few things,” said USD athletic director Ky Snyder. The school used these two games as a dry run in case the Toreros get the chance to host another NCAA regional. When the Toreros hosted a regional in 2007, they had to use San Diego State’s Tony Gwynn Stadium because their old ballpark didn’t have lights. For this series, temporary bleachers increased capacity from 1,700 to 3,000.
The Toreros’ most notable athletic product is Kris Bryant, the 2013 Golden Spikes Award winner who was drafted second overall by the Chicago Cubs.
Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson