Forecast: National League preview

4. San Diego Padres

Jerry Crasnick: It didn't take long for a worrisome run of injuries to dent the early sense of optimism in San Diego's camp. The Padres were excited about their starting pitching depth, but it's no longer a strength now that they've lost Cory Luebke to Tommy John surgery and will be without Josh Johnson (strained flexor tendon in his forearm) and Joe Wieland (elbow) for extended periods. In addition, Cameron Maybin tore his biceps early in the spring and can't seem to get over the hump. The offense could be OK if Chase Headley has a bounce-back year, Will Venable and Jedd Gyorko approximate their 2013 numbers, and Yonder Alonso returns from a hand injury to flash his old doubles power and hit 10-15 home runs. If history is any indication, Bud Black and Darren Balsley also will get the most out of the pitching staff. It's easy to see the Padres improving on their 76-86 record and finishing third in the NL West. But it's a stretch to envision them challenging for a postseason spot.

Jim Bowden: The Padres are capable of finishing anywhere between second and fifth place in the NL West, but to finish second they will need healthy and successful seasons from Josh Johnson, Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin. Johnson was signed as a free agent after a dismal season with the Blue Jays. Pitching coach Darren Balsley has made adjustments to his delivery that Johnson thinks will help him turn things around. Headley is hoping to stay healthy and bounce back to the All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger caliber player he was two years ago. He'll be a free agent at season's end and will get traded in July if the Padres aren't in contention. Quentin's 20-homer power is desperately needed in the lineup, the trick is trying to keep him healthy. The rebuilt bullpen should be the strongest part of this team as the offseason acquisitions of Joaquin Benoit via free agency and Alex Torres via a trade with the Rays should be able to shore up the seventh and eighth innings getting to closer Huston Street.

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