July has never been a good month for sports fans. The NHL and NBA just finished their respective championship series, and NFL training camp is still a month away. The UCLA Bruins have been crowned the NCAA baseball champions and the NCAA basketball season begins in November. The month of July, and its lack of other popular sports, is why baseball players are sometimes referred to as “the boys of summer.” That would be fine and dandy if the San Diego Padres were winning, but they’re not.

Last week, the Padres found themselves in second place in the NL West despite a terrible start to the season, but injuries have knocked them back down toward the bottom of the division. San Diego has lost 10 of its last 12 games, including the last six games, and has avoided last place only because the San Francisco Giants have lost nine of their last 10.

Bud Black’s group has 10 more difficult games (against the Nationals, Rockies and Giants) without a day off before the MLB All-Star break. He’ll need to find a way to jump-start his offense before those series if the team is to stay in contention. This is, without a doubt, the most crucial stretch of the year so far and how the team responds could determine the future for a lot of players — and coaches — on the roster.

You’re reading the Sports Report, our weekly compilation of news and information for the San Diego sports fan.

Hope on the Horizon for the Padres

There’s no way around it. The biggest reason for the Padres’ recent struggles is injuries. Missing from the lineup are Everth Cabrera, Jedd Gyorko, Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin. Just as important as their bats is the depth that’s missing now that their backups have been thrust into starting roles. Regular starts for Pedro Ciriaco, Kyle Blanks, Alexi Amarista and Logan Forsythe have meant there’s no way for manager Black to give players like Chase Headley and Chris Denorfia days off. Blanks and Will Venable have also missed games with injuries, their bodies unaccustomed to the wear-and-tear of playing every day. In the midst of a 17-game stretch without a day off in the schedule, the team is showing its fatigue.

Luckily, Cabrera’s strained left hamstring appears to be fully healed and he’s expected to be in the lineup when San Diego takes on the Washington Nationals on Friday. Before getting injured on June 17, Cabrera was “arguably the team’s MVP,” according to Black. His speed, hitting and defense seemed to be the catalyst to a lot of the Padres’ success this season, and his return will allow Ciriaco and Forsythe to fill in elsewhere.

Gyorko, who was on pace to be a Rookie of the Year candidate before straining his right groin on June 10, is being brought along slowly by the Padres’ training staff after re-injuring himself in a minor league game on June 26. He won’t be available for the Nationals series this weekend, but could be back for a very important series against the Giants that begins on July 11 if his second attempt at a minor league rehab assignment goes as planned.

Ryan Mathews Didn’t Get Arrested and Somehow That’s News

The biggest story for the San Diego Chargers this week was a report that Ryan Mathews had been arrested after a fight at a bar. Blogs wrote about it, as did local newspapers and even Sports Illustrated. Morning sports radio shows spent hours discussing it, only to apologize later when it was revealed that the report was fake. Kevin Acee was still angry about Mathews getting arrested, even when he knew that the arrest never happened.

This is the world we live in today. Fake stories result in real outrage. The NFL is in such high demand that even made-up stories about an NFL player dominate the sports radio airwaves. This is why the NFL is king compared with other professional sports, and why you should always take “breaking news” stories with a large grain of salt.

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John Gennaro

I'm John Gennaro, contributor to Active Voice and managing editor of Bolts from the Blue. You can tweet me @john_gennaro...

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