It’s symbolic that Musgrove would be packing up that portion of his life this week. When he became the first pitcher in Padres history to throw a no-hitter on Friday night — and a hometown kid, at that — Musgrove was elevated instantly to a San Diego icon.
A mural of Musgrove is already being unveiled at Grossmont High School, which he attended in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon. The Musgroves have seen a record number of customers at Caffé Adesso, their family-owned and operated coffee shop in Alpine, Calif. City officials have even joked about passing a resolution to make it illegal for Musgrove to pay for his own beer.
“It’s just so cool to me that everyone’s shown so much love and support,” Musgrove said.
Now, for an encore on Wednesday, Musgrove gets to face the team that traded him to the Padres on Jan. 19, back in Pittsburgh. “No hard feelings,” Musgrove said. He loved his time as a Pirate and will be facing a handful of his closest friends.
That includes left-hander Steven Brault, who also attended Grossmont High School, and fully appreciated the scope of Musgrove’s accomplishment, even while watching from afar.
“It’s so cool,” Brault said. “And to be in the history books with the Padres, and not just be on the hometown team, but to be the first no-hitter in Padres history. I remember as a kid, we would go to games and people would get close and it would be such a big deal, and they wouldn’t get it. So Joe getting it and being the first one is awesome. But yeah, I’ve talked to him a little bit. He’s Joe. He’s like, ‘Yeah man, it was pretty awesome.’ And it’s like, ‘That’s all you’ve got, man?’ But he’s nasty, so you love to see it.”
Musgrove, of course, has made it very clear that he understands the scope of his accomplishment. But he’s also determined to keep his focus on the next challenge.
“Coming off the start that I just had, it’s real easy to ride that high for too long,” Musgrove said. “Your season can take a quick turn downhill. That was a really cool moment, and I think it’s definitely something worth taking time to celebrate and enjoy. But I’m trying to move past that now and get ready for this next start.”
Musgrove’s renaissance as a pitcher dates back to his time in Pittsburgh. In his final two starts of the 2020 season, he pitched scoreless ball, with 10-plus strikeouts and just three hits in each.
He rides a 31-inning scoreless streak into his start on Wednesday, which dates back to last September, when Musgrove began to overhaul his arsenal. He started emphasizing his cutter and relying a bit less on his sinker and four-seam fastball. Then, Musgrove spent the offseason honing his mechanics to limit his arm action and be more direct to the plate.
Those changes weren’t easy. But the results, Musgrove said, serve as some level of vindication.
“I think what I get the most out of it is the confidence and the reassurance that you’re capable of doing things that you might not think you are,” Musgrove said. “Everyone in baseball, and anyone in any professional aspect of life, you like to feel like you can do something that’s beyond what you’re capable of. But all that is just a thought and a belief until you go out there and do it.
“Accomplishing that just reassured me that things that I’m doing are paying off, and all the work that I put in this offseason is starting to show.”
• Speaking of the Musgrove mural, the Padres recently unveiled a video in which Musgrove learns of its existence. In the video, recorded Sunday morning, Joe’s sister, Terra, FaceTimes her brother with the surprise, and Musgrove’s reaction is fantastic.
The mural will be formally unveiled on Wednesday morning.
• Petco Park is moving from 20% to 33% capacity for the Padres’ weekend series against the Dodgers in San Diego, after the county had moved from the red tier to the less restrictive orange tier. The Padres will also increase capacity up to 67% in specific sections designated for fully-vaccinated fans, or fans who have received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the game.