As the Pirates were rebuilding last winter and the Padres were looking for starting pitching, Joe Musgrove entertained thoughts of being traded from Pittsburgh to San Diego.
Then the Padres traded for Yu Darvish and Blake Snell on back-to-back days in late December.
“I had been hoping coming to the Padres was a possibility,” Musgrove said, “but when they got Darvish and Snell, I thought that hope ended.”
However, as spring training opened, Musgrove, a native of San Diego County who grew up a Padres fan, had his wish granted. The Pirates traded the 6-foot-5, 28-year-old right-hander to the Padres as part of a three-team deal also involving the New York Mets.
On Saturday night, Musgrove makes his first start as a Padre at Petco Park, where he rooted for the team as a kid. Musgrove will face the Arizona Diamondbacks and be paired against left-hander Caleb Smith as the Padres look for a third straight win to start the season in a four-game series.
Not only is Musgrove excited to be with the Padres, but he’s excited about the team the Padres are fielding.
“Growing up in San Diego, I waited for a team like this for a long time,” said Musgrove, who was the 46th overall pick of the 2011 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Grossmont High in El Cajon, Calif. “It’s great to be part of this.”
Musgrove was 1-5 in eight starts with the Pirates last season despite a 3.86 ERA. He has a lifetime 29-38 record with a 4.33 ERA in 108 games (83 starts).
This will be Musgrove’s third career outing at Petco Park. The first came in the 2016 Futures Game as part of the All-Star Game festivities in San Diego. As a Pirate, Musgrove was 2-0 against the Padres with a 2.03 ERA in two starts.
“I always got a very warm reception when I pitched here in the past,” Musgrove said. “San Diego has this pride thing about developing major league players. The fans always welcome guys back. To me, it’s still a game, but this means a lot more. In the past, I was nervous as heck when I pitched here.”
The 6-foot, 29-year-old Smith has also had good luck pitching against the Padres and at Petco Park. He has a career 2-1 record against the Padres with a 2.01 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in four starts against the Padres and is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 13 innings over two starts at Petco Park.
Smith was 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP for the Diamondbacks last season after they acquired him from Miami in a trade for Starling Marte. He has a 15-18 career record with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He has 289 strikeouts in 263 1/3 innings in 58 career appearances (50 starts).
“He develops a nice tempo and rhythm when he’s attacking the zone,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said of Smith, who leads with a mid-90s fastball.
The bats of first baseman Eric Hosmer and second baseman Jake Cronenworth have paced the Padres in the first two games. Hosmer is 6-for-7 to start the season with a double, two homers, six RBIs and three runs. All six of his RBIs have come on two-out hits.
Cronenworth is 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, three walks and three runs. He became the first Padre since Kurt Bevacqua in 1985 to reach base in his first six plate appearances to open the season.
For Arizona, center fielder Ketel Marte is 6-for-10 in the two games with two doubles, two homers, three RBIs and three runs.
–Field Level Media