Future Padres expansion big on Caravan stop

Program marked to outfit local softball players with jerseys, caps

Future Padres expansion big on Caravan stop

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- It's still seven or so weeks before Tyson Ross fires his first pitch for the Padres, though the one he provided on Saturday certainly rated as important during the Opening Day for Bonita Valley Girls Softball.

Ross talked about his fond Little League memories growing up in the Bay Area, a message that certainly resonated with the 14-and-under crowd, who essentially hung on his every word.

The Padres Caravan, in its third and final day, rolled into Chula Vista early Saturday morning for the Opening Day events, which occurred on the same day the team announced the expansion of Future Padres, the club's four-year-old youth jersey program.

This season, the Future Padres program will outfit more than 6,000 local softball players with a Padres-branded performance jersey along with a corresponding "SD" headband.

More than 20,000 Padres-branded jerseys and matching caps or headbands have been distributed to youth baseball and softball leagues in the San Diego area this year. The program benefits more than 2,000 teams across more than 70 leagues.

"The Future Padres jersey program is certainly the most expansive grass-roots program we have," said Padres senior vice president of community and military affairs Tom Seidler.

"It's great to support the leagues that are doing such a great job; everybody from the volunteer coaches to the umpires, the parents, the administrators, everyone who makes Little League baseball and softball possible."

Ross, pitcher Brandon Maurer and first-year manager Andy Green were on hand for Saturday's festivities along with several members of the organization.

The jerseys and caps distributed to youth baseball teams in 2016 represent 12 jersey styles the Padres have worn during the club's history.

Softball teams were offered their own set of 12 styles in fashion colors. In addition to outfitting the youth participants, the Padres provided team coaches with corresponding T-shirts, and each league with a custom banner to display at its field.

The added benefit of providing these uniform essentials free of charge gives the leagues the opportunity to re-allocate funds typically budgeted toward uniforms to other areas in need of improvement.

"We're supporting it in a small way, but the money the leagues save by the Padres providing jerseys will allow them to fix their snack bar, or maybe even lower their registration fees," Seidler said.

This year, Clorox will once again hold a #FuturePadres photo sweepstakes on social media throughout the 2016 season. One winner a month will receive 20 tickets for their teammates and coaches to attend a game at Petco Park with a special pregame batting practice visit. For more information, visit padres.com/playball.

"It's supporting something we have a lot of respect for, and at the same time we're connecting on an immediate level with kids 14 and under and their parents and, hopefully, broadening the Padres' fan base," Seidler said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.