Padres reliever Ryan Weathers, 20, goes from Class A to first-class debut against Dodgers
When Ryan Weathers got to the Globe Life Field mound Tuesday night, the 20-year-old left-hander poised to become the second pitcher to make his big league debut in the postseason, he was greeted with calming words from Padres manager Jayce Tingler.
“I told him to take a deep breath and throw the ball over the plate,” Tingler said. “Go attack the zone and try to enjoy the moment.”
Some 20 hours later, as he reflected on the 1 1/3 hitless innings he threw against the Dodgers in a 5-1 Game 1 loss, Weathers, who hadn’t pitched above Class A before Tuesday, couldn’t say if Tingler’s message hit home.
“I can’t remember anything Jayce said to me,” Weathers said before Game 2. “I have no clue.”
The whole day was a blur for Weathers, from the time he was notified by general manager A.J. Preller at the team hotel — in the most 2020 way possible — that he was added to the NLDS roster to the time he returned to the hotel after the game.
Austin Barnes will catch Clayton Kershaw as usual, and the Dodgers will use Will Smith as the designated hitter despite not having a third catcher on the roster.
“We were doing our [COVID-19] spit test, and A.J. said, ‘Which one is the big league test, and which is the minor league one?’ ” Weathers said. “I said, ‘I don’t know,’ He said, ‘Grab one from the big league side today because you’re on the roster.’ I didn’t believe him. I was like, ‘Really? Are you serious?’ ”
As Weathers jogged in from the bullpen in the third inning, “the only thing that went through my head was, ‘I’m in the big leagues right now,’ ” said Weathers, the son of former major league pitcher David Weathers.
A 2018 first-round pick who spent the summer at the team’s alternate training site, Weathers got Corey Seager to fly to center, walked Justin Turner and got Max Muncy to fly to left to end the third. He walked Will Smith, struck out Cody Bellinger with a 96-mph fastball and got AJ Pollock to pop to short before yielding to Austin Adams in the fourth.
“I couldn’t really feel my body the whole first inning,” Weathers said, “but it was a lot of fun to start your career against the Dodgers.”
This time last year, Weathers was home in Tennessee, reflecting on his first full pro season, when he went 3-7 with a 3.84 ERA for Class-A Fort Wayne (Ind.).
“If you told me last year I’d be pitching in the NLDS against the Dodgers, I would have called you crazy,” Weathers said. “But it’s 2020, and anything can happen.”
Mike Clevinger, whose Game 1 start was cut short by an elbow injury, was removed from the NLDS roster before Game 2, making the right-hander ineligible for the NL Championship series should the Padres advance. He was replaced by right-hander Dan Altavilla.
Clevinger, acquired from Cleveland in a nine-player trade Aug. 31, was diagnosed with an impingement in the back of his elbow in mid-September and missed the wild card series against St. Louis.
He returned Tuesday but was pulled after his second pitch of the second inning. He will only be eligible to pitch again this season if San Diego reaches the World Series.
Clevinger fought back tears Tuesday when he was asked about his grueling three-week rehabilitation.
“This is what you play for, why you go through the process, why you give up your offseason, time away from family,” Clevinger said. “So it’s been a lot.”
Zach Davies led the San Diego Padres with seven victories and 69 1/3 innings in 2020. He has been named the starter for Game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers.
After playing the regular season in empty stadiums, the Dodgers were buoyed by family members who have been allowed to attend the NLDS games in Texas.
“With the way this season went, being able to have my girlfriend and my family in the stands for the first time, it was definitely pretty cool,” said Dodgers pitcher Dustin May, who grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “Having people cheering you on — except for the crowd noise the speakers play — is pretty cool too.
“We’re not going to be able to see them face-to-face until after the World Series or whatever we get to. But it was nice knowing they were there.”
With Austin Barnes starting behind the plate and Will Smith at designated hitter Wednesday night, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said his backup catcher would be utility man Matt Beaty, who last caught at Belmont University. … Thursday’s Game 3 airs on MLB Network. For non-subscribers, the network is offering a free preview through Oct. 17 on most cable and satellite providers. Fans needing help can check www.findmlbnetwork.com.
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