Padre Fernando Tatís Jr. connects during summer camp batting practice at Petco Park. Photo by Chris Stone

File this under better late than never, as the San Diego Padres open their season Friday evening against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.

Some experts predict the teams will battle for second-place in the National League West, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, the perennial division favorites.

The coronavirus outbreak wiped out the March 26 start to the regular season. That included the Padres opening day game against the Colorado Rockies.

“I think everybody’s excited to play somebody else,” first-year manager Jayce Tingler told reporters in a Zoom news conference last week. “We’ve been banging heads for a while. It’s going to be really good getting to see another team and just getting to go compete.”

Chris Paddack will start for the Padres Friday at 6:10 p.m., facing the Diamondbacks’ starry new addition, Madison Bumgarner.

The Padres expect Paddack, 24, coming off his rookie season, to anchor their 2020 rotation. He had a 3.33 ERA in 26 starts last year.

Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series MVP, had a 3.90 ERA last year and and went 9-9 for the San Francisco Giants. This is his first year in Arizona.

Dinelson Lamet will pitch for the Padres on Saturday, according to MLB.com, while Garrett Richards takes the mound on Sunday.

The Padres played two exhibition games this week against the Los Angeles Angels, one at home and one at Angel Stadium. They lost the first game 1-0 Monday, while taking the second, 5-4 on Wednesday.

The Padres also played 16 intra-squad games. They began “summer camp” July 3.

Padre fans will be barred from attending games under public health directives prohibiting public events and gatherings due to the pandemic.

In addition, Major League Baseball has instituted a set of health and safety protocols that will affect the shortened 60-game season even before the first pitch.

Among the changes:

  • Officials scratched the pre-game exchange of lineup cards. Instead, teams will load their lineup cards into a mobile app provided by MLB.
  • Teams expanded dugout and bullpen space to meet requirements. All non-playing personnel must wear face coverings at all times in the dugout and bullpen.
  • To prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing on the field, prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced.
  • Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within 6 feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager to argue or fight are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions.
  • Spitting is prohibited at all times in club facilities, including on the field.

“We want to be a positive example of responsibly returning to work with extensive health and safety protocols,” an MLB spokesperson said. “Our goals are to provide enjoyment and normalcy for sports fans during these unprecedented times.”

National League games also will include the use of the designated hitter for the first time. The DH had been limited to American League games and some inter-league games.

– City News Service and staff reports

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