Trevor Hoffman stood atop the Petco Park mound and oh what a relief it is.
Check that: It’s 4:30 p.m. and hells bells, Hoffman is just heaving batting practice.
Any chance you can stay, No. 51?
Nope, Hoffman’s appearance is as short as his spiffy haircut. But if hanging around North County barbers’ chairs, no doubt the conversation cuts to the chase.
What’s up with the Padres?
It’s nearly a month into the season to remember and why do we keep thinking of the dreadful past?
The Padres were supposed to go 162-0 this year, right? Are they really hovering around .500?
This bunch, which was once an ugly duckling, morphed into a beauty in one magical offseason.
We’re not sure which of those La Jolla doctors it visited to peel off the wear-and-tear, but what a makeover.
The outfield got a facelift; the infield received a tummy tuck and the rotation a big ol’ Botox injection.
Look out Dodgers! Giants better cower! Diamondbacks and Rockies? Please, child.
Then something happened on the way to the world championship parade. We’re reminded that the baseball gods laugh at those thinking they have this crazy game solved.
The offense is fine but winning baseball is more than going piñata on opponents. That snazzy lineup which includes Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and others can’t carry the water on its own.
Pitching? That’s where the leaks in this vessel reside.
It was a tough night for a lot of our pitchers manager Bud Black said on Tuesday.
The Padres were on the wrong end of a score which belonged to winter: Houston 14, San Diego 3 and be thankful Chargers kicker Nick Novak nailed that late field goal.
He didn’t really split the uprights but what the Padres’ hurlers are doing is splitting the plate. Get too much of the dish and the entree becomes humble pie.
“We got to turn it around,” Black said.
Black was alluding to the bullpen, one that features lock-down closer Craig Kimbrel.
But don’t fault Black if he locks the bullpen gate before the ninth inning.
While Kimbrel throws gas, his colleagues are dumping inflammable fuel on rivals’ bats.
The Padres without a solid bullpen? What in the name of Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Mark Davis, Rod Beck, Heath Bell, Huston Street and Hoffman is going on in these parts?
We’ve had a lot of success with our bullpens,” Black said, scratching a noggin’ going grayer by the game. “We have to rectify that.”
It’s no cause for a High Five when the relievers’ combined ERA sits at 4.98. That was through Tuesday’s games and being ranked No. 29 out of 30 teams is never cool.
No bullpen has allowed more earned runs (38) or runs (41) than the Padres’ non-starters.
But this isn’t the beginning of the end. We remind the Friar Faithful with sweaty palms not to become disbelievers.
It’s early, which all teams say when they are scuffling.
The truth is the Padres are doing some of that, but during this juncture of the season mistakes can be managed.
Et tu, Padres general manager A.J. Preller?
We trust trade-happy Preller isn’t consumed viewing the Moonlight Beach waves from his Encinitas porch. He knows if the Padres want an endless summer instead of an endless bummer, the back-end boys need to buck up; although starters Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy need to find their sea legs as well.
But as the Padres’ ship seeks smoother waters, know that it’s no time to go overboard.
May brings with it flowers, and just maybe, it’s the month the Padres bloom as well.
Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at paris_sports and at mighty1090.com
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports