Profar starts hot for Padres after offseason practice with Tatis’ dad
Jurickson Profar went to “baseball country” and the father of a phenom this offseason to try and become everything he was meant to be.
“I felt like I could be a great player here, and I haven’t reached that level yet,” Profar said Monday night after driving in his seventh National League lead race and scoring a life-saving catch for the Padres in the outfield. . “So I had to do something different to be able to perform at this level every day.”
In Monday’s fifth game of the season, Profar was 5 for 14 with two home runs and three walks. He hit the Padres’ first and second home runs of the season, the latter a grand slam on Sunday. He beat a single to the field Monday to give them a lead and in the seventh inning ran 100 feet to make a sliding catch to protect a lead.
The season is not yet a week old. The Padres didn’t anoint Profar as anything more than a piece of the puzzle on their roster.
He’s still curled up in left field to some degree with Matt Beaty, who was in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Giants, and right-hander Alex Cobb. Profar was also lifted late in three games for a defensive substitution, including two innings after his impressive takedown on Monday.
“I don’t make those decisions,” Profar said Tuesday, smiling broadly. “But I will continue to work.”
What Profar provided is a small sample, of course. But it’s hopeful, in that the expectation that he would get the bulk of starts in left field was seen as one of the Padres’ biggest potential flaws this season. And its results so far are worth a look at what Profar has been and what it has tried to do about it.
Profar, 29, is from and lives in the Caribbean nation of Curacao, a place where cruise ships stop.
“In Curacao, I can’t train for a baseball season as it should be,” Profar said. “That’s why I went to baseball country to practice baseball stuff.”
He did it with Fernando Tatis Sr. and his brother, Wilton Veras, at the facility they run in the Dominican Republic.
“I train with them and they give me a lot of confidence that I can be myself and play,” Profar said.
His quest has a certain circular meaning, as Profar was Fernando Tatis Jr. before Tatis was Tatis.
Profar, a young infielder with a huge, effervescent smile and infectious joy, played in the Futures Game in 2011 and 2012 and was widely considered baseball’s top prospect in 2013.
It turned out to be just OK. Really, he was barely that for most of the 352 games the Texas Rangers played him for more than four seasons before trading him to the Oakland A’s after the 2018 season.
He was benched before the 2019 All-Star break and came to the Padres in a November 2019 trade that sent minor league receiver Austin Allen to the A’s.
He was invaluable as a kind of super sub and in a short time was everything the Padres could have hoped for and everything AJ. Preller saw in him when he led the Rangers’ international recognition efforts. In the 60-game 2020 campaign, Profar started 51 games and hit .278 on .343 on-base percentage, both well above his career standards. And even in a dismal 2021, he posted a .968 OPS in 69 board appearances from late June to early August.
But after signing a three-year, $21 million deal before Season 21, Profar’s final line was 0.227/0.329/0.320.
On August 4, he was placed on the injured list for the second time for being in “close contact” with someone who tested positive for COVID. He said he never experienced any symptoms, but was unable to train during his 10 days and 2.5 week absence.
“No cage, no race,” he said. “So when I came back, my legs were dead.”
After hitting .209 with a .581 OPS in his first 249 plate appearances, he closed the season hitting .144 with a .444 OPS in his last 79 plate appearances.
“Very disappointed” is how Profar rated his feelings about 2021. “Last year a lot happened. I missed a month with the COVID stuff and then the game n It wasn’t very good, so I had to prepare for this year.