As with all Major League teams, the relationship between the Minor League affiliates and the parent club is paramount to the success of the organization as a whole. The Padres certainly understand that.
"We are extremely excited to extend our affiliation with Lake Elsinore," said Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson. "[Lake Elsinore president] Dave Oster and his staff have created one of the best venues in Minor League Baseball, and to have them in our backyard is a perfect fit. I speak for all of our staff and players when I say this is one of the best marriages in baseball."
Lake Elsinore, which is located less than two hours from San Diego, gives the Padres flexibility due to its proximity. Rehabbing players have a place to go without it being completely cumbersome on the player or the team.
According to Fuson, the Storm play at "one of the better venues in baseball." The relationship, as seen with the extension, is strong and looks as if it will continue to remain solid for years to come.
"I am very pleased that we are extending our relationship with Lake Elsinore for four more years, and I hope it lasts well beyond this most recent agreement," said Padres executive vice President/general manager Kevin Towers. "I think the Storm and the Padres share a fan base, which is beneficial to both clubs. From [Storm owner] Gary Jacobs to Dave Oster, the entire Storm organization has been terrific to work with."
Since becoming a Padres affiliate in 2001, Lake Elsinore has been a starting point for 33 players reaching the Major Leagues, including 25 who made their big league debut with San Diego. Jake Peavy, Khalil Greene and Chase Headley once called Lake Elsinore home and are now part of the Padres' roster. Over parts of eight seasons, the team has compiled a record of 595-517, including a 68-67 overall mark in 2008.
On Wednesday, Lake Elsinore came to PETCO Park as part of a Major League/Minor League doubleheader, defeating the Inland Empire 66ers, 9-4. For some of the players, it was their first time ever playing on the field of a Major League team, including 2008 first-round Draft pick, Allan Dykstra.
"It was great," said Dykstra, who went 1-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. "We're playing on Minor League fields and college fields. That doesn't compare to being out there on the real deal up in the big leagues. It was just a taste, but it was something that definitely can drive you to get there."
Ronald P. Clark is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.