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#pounditMonday, July 22, 2024

Padres pitcher takes apparent shot at ex-teammate Josh Hader

A San Diego Padres hat resting on a glove

Aug 8, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of an official San Diego Padres New Era on field hat against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One San Diego Padres player can sense a big difference now that Josh Hader is no longer their closer.

The Padres won their fourth game of the young season on Wednesday, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2. San Diego reliever Robert Suarez was called on to secure a five-out save and delivered, including striking out the final two batters to end the contest.

Speaking with reporters afterwards, Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove, who started the game and threw six innings of one-run ball to earn the win, seemed to get in a shot at ex-San Diego closer Josh Hader.

“Having a closer that you can go out there and rely on for more than just three outs is huge to us here,” said Musgrove of Suarez, per Padres reporter Annie Heilbrunn. “He is always willing to take the ball and we are grateful for it.”

That sure sounded like a thinly-veiled shot at Hader, who was infamous for his inability (or flat-out refusal) to pitch more than three outs for the Padres. The five-time All-Star Hader was automatic in the ninth for San Diego last year, posting a 1.28 ERA with 33 saves and 85 strikeouts in 61 appearances. But perhaps to preserve himself heading into his free agency and perhaps because the Padres were not contenders last season, Hader never went a single time beyond three outs (and still has not in a regular season game since 2020).

Hader, who left to sign with the Houston Astros as a free agent in January, did get some run for the Padres during eighth innings in 2022 but struggled badly. Suarez is now the go-to closer for San Diego, and with three saves in his three first opportunities, he is already making for a welcome change for some teammates.

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