San Diego Padres
Posted on May 1, 2019
The San Diego Padres are as much a part of the fabric of San Diego as Balboa Park, our beaches, and the Hotel del Coronado. First arriving in 1936 as a minor league team, the Padres joined the major leagues in 1969 and have been our beloved home team for multiple generations. Over the course of their 50-year history, there have been highs — including 1984 and 1998 National League pennant wins — as well as lows, plus admired players, managers, and even broadcasters that shaped the team’s image and forged an enduring bond between the Friars and the city that supports them. The 2019 team is enjoying incredible momentum early in the season, making it an ideal time to check in with pitchers Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates, and infielder Greg Garcia, a San Diego native, about living, playing, and giving back in San Diego. Deanna Murphy, Photography by Vincent Knakal
This is your third season playing for San Diego. Does this feel like home now, and what do you do in your free time? C.S. I love the organization, they’ve treated me very well, and this is where my family has come together, so San Diego does feel like home. I love golfing, so when I’m not with my family, I’m probably golfing. [I] play at Coronado Golf Course quite a bit, I’ve been to San Diego Country Club, and I’ve obviously been up to Torrey Pines a few times. I just played Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, which was really nice.
Hall of Fame pitcher Trevor Hoffman still has a lot of involvement with the team. What does it mean for you and the rest of the bullpen to have access to someone so revered not only in pitching but as a member of the Padres and in baseball overall? C.S. He’s known as being a great teammate and he’s been a great mentor to all of us. He’s created a culture in the San Diego bullpen and we’re just trying to carry that legacy and that culture on as long as we possibly can. He’s a guy we look up to and that’s what we all strive to be — really good on the field and great human beings off the field — and he’s been able to do both, so we’re going to take his lead and try to duplicate that.
You’ve got a history of being very supportive of our military. What does it mean to you to be able to give back to that part of our community? C.S. I think as a baseball player you have a status that people look up to and it’s an opportunity to do some good things, so any chance I get to use the platform that I’ve been given, I’m going to. I have two college roommates who ended up going into the military after we graduated, one is still serving, so I know what it’s like when they go overseas and deploy. I just try to bring a little bit of joy to those who are here in the States still, to come enjoy some Padres games and get away from the stress or pressures of being deployed and serving the country.
Being a local, do you have a favorite thing to share? G.G. I’m an East County guy. I grew up in Rancho San Diego, so the local spot we go to is called Hilberto’s. We go to La Jolla when we go to the beach, but I don’t make it downtown as much as I probably should, because there are so many cool things down here now. I haven’t really gotten to enjoy San Diego for 12, 13 years now, so I’m happy to be home for sure.
What does it mean to you to be a part of this team with the kind of momentum it has right now? G.G. It’s special. When I signed over here, I knew this team was talented because I played against them last year with the Cardinals. I knew [the Padres] had a lot of young players coming up and to see them in spring training, I was like “Wow, we’ve got a real chance.” You see what Tatís [Jr.] does, you see what these young arms can do — Paddack and these guys. There’s no more “wait to win,” it’s time to win now. Then you bring in a guy like Manny Machado, arguably the best player in the world, and he’s going to help any ball club. He’s definitely helping ours. I think there’s a quiet confidence in our group. We don’t need the recognition, we don’t need MLB Network to talk about us. We’re just happy to go out there and compete every single day against whoever.
It’s a long season and you also have a young family. Are you able to get involved in the community at all or use your position as a platform here in San Diego? G.G. My wife Hannah and I think a really important part of what I do and what we do as a family is to give back, especially to the community that raised me. Baseball is just a game but there’s so much more good you can do outside of it, and that’s what we like to explore as a family. My wife does a great job of always helping out whenever she can, and now having to juggle a baby as well makes it a little bit more complicated, but she does a really great job.
You’re coming off an amazing month (named April’s National League Reliever of the Month) and the team is off to a great start this season. Do you dare allow yourself to think about late October? K.Y. You can’t. April is awesome and you want to get off to a good start, and I’m ecstatic at the start that as a team we’ve gotten off to. The weird thing is, nobody remembers the beginning of the season; everybody remembers how you finish. So, we’ve got a long way to go and we’re on the right track and it’s been a lot of fun so far, but I enjoy this team and I know my teammates feel the exact same way that I do, and it should make for a good season.
What is the best part about playing here at Petco Park? K.Y. The weather is incredible, the ballpark is beautiful, and I think our fans are incredible. There’s loyalty here – I think that’s really good. Obviously, there was a bigger market when I was with the Yankees and you can feel that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was better. I enjoy coming to the field every day and being able to play in front of our fans.
When do you get out to enjoy San Diego? K.Y. Off days and day games. Day games usually means my wife and I go on a date somewhere or we take the kids and try to do something. We like to try different places. We’ve gone up to La Jolla and that’s really nice, and we’ll come downtown to the Gaslamp, or some nights we just like to walk [in Coronado] and we take the kids, have dinner down there, and walk around, and I think that’s the cool part about San Diego. There are a lot of options and they’re all pretty neat options.
How did you choose your walk-up song? K.Y. I recently changed my walk-up song to Metallica’s “Sad But True.” It’s a little bit more aggressive and I think people enjoy it a little bit more than the other one [Bob Marley’s “Could you Be Loved”]. I took my time in picking this one and I think I picked a good one.
Photography by Vincent Knakal