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Opening Day brings high expectations and wet weather for San Diego Padres

Petco Park is seen in this image taken March 30, 2023.
Mel Shaw
/
KPBS
Petco Park is seen in this image taken March 30, 2023.

The San Diego Padres are scheduled to open the 2023 season Thursday night against the Colorado Rockies, with the start of the game rescheduled in an attempt to avoid a rainout.

But regardless of the weather, fans still found their way into the ballpark.

The team spent some serious money in the off season to sign big stars and is hoping to build off of their 2022 playoff run.

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Crystal Jacobo traveled with her husband and three kids to the game all the way from San Bernardino.

“Were pumped and I feel like this is our year so we’re excited,” she said.

Hours before game time fans were crowding into the team store and gathering at local restaurants and bars to celebrate the new season.

Adults and children in Padres merch on Opening Day. Petco Park, San Diego, Calif. March 30, 2023.
Carlos Castillo
/
KPBS
Adults and children in Padres merch on Opening Day. Petco Park, San Diego, Calif. March 30, 2023.

Chad Delagdo was at the game with his friends and had a bold prediction for the team.

“World Series baby, World Series all the way. All the way. Yeah, the city’s excited. We’re here for them,” he said.

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KPBS even heard from some of the players who aren't fazed by the high expectations.

“We just got to play baseball. There's no pressure for us. It's the pressure for [the other teams], they got to beat us. We just got to go out there and play hard,” said Padres star outfielder Juan Soto.

First pitch has been rescheduled for 6:40 p.m. It was originally scheduled for 1:10 p.m. There is a 45% chance of rain for the original start time but between a 12% to 20% at the rescheduled time, according to the Weather Channel.

There have been three rainouts at Petco Park, which opened in 2004, with the most recent occurring in 2017.

Rain is likely to hit San Diego on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, which forecast a 70% chance of precipitation.

Left-hander Blake Snell will pitch for the Padres against Rockies right-hander German Marquez.

Pregame pageantry includes the unfurling of a United States-shaped flag, held by 75 season ticket members. The national anthem will be performed by saxophonist Jason Brown, who also performed the first national anthem in Petco Park history.

An MH-60S helicopter flyover will follow the national anthem. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, who will be inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame this season.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Charitee Swift-Day will perform "God Bless America" before the seventh-inning stretch.

The Padres are in the rare position of being favored to win the National League West. The website Fangraphs gives the Padres a 55.4% chance of winning the division and projects they will be 90-72 and finish three games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres last won the division in 2006.

The site gives the Padres an 11% chance of winning the World Series, the second choice behind the Atlanta Braves, which it gives a 14% chance.

The Padres finished 89-73 in 2022, second in the National League West, advancing to the postseason for the first time in a complete season since 2006. They defeated the favored New York Mets in a wild card series and the Dodgers in a National League Division Series, before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.

Following the headline 2022 trade deadline acquisitions of Juan Soto and Josh Hader, the Padres made a series of aggressive offseason moves including long-term extensions for Manny Machado and Yu Darvish, and several free agent signings, most notably the 11-year, $280 million deal for shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Opening Day coverage will not be hindered by the recent bankruptcy filing by Diamond Sports Group, owner of the Bally Sports regional sports networks. Regular season coverage on Bally Sports San Diego is expected for 155 games, including Thursday's. Radio coverage is available on 97.3 FM and 860 AM in Spanish.

In related news, the North County Transit District announced that Padres' Coaster trains will take attendees to opening day at Petco Park on Thursday and home with the new game time.

According to NCTD, "there are multiple options for fans" to take the Coaster southbound to Petco Park, in time for when the gates are opened at 4:30 p.m.

An additional Padres train will depart northbound one hour after the last out from Santa Fe Depot for attendees.

More information is available at GoNCTD.com/Padres. "With today's sellout crowd, Padres fans are encouraged to take public transit to avoid the traffic congestion and costly parking hassles," according to NCTD officials.

This Saturday there will be an opening weekend block party in the gaslamp ahead of the first weekend game of the 2023 season.

The Padres are expecting sellout crowds for most home games this season.