Fans have high hopes in advance of Padres’ home opener

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SAN DIEGO -- With fan expectations at levels unseen in San Diego since the World Series year of 1998, the Padres this afternoon will open their 2015 home schedule at Petco Park against the defending champion San Francisco Giants.

Following a whirlwind of off-season moves, only two of the players in San Diego's starting lineup for Monday's season opener in Los Angeles were with the Padres last year -- first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

Additions included starting pitchers James Shields and Brandon Morrow; closer Craig Kimbrel; catcher Derek Norris; outfielders Justin and Melvin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers; and third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

The festivities will begin with the annual East Village Block Party. The event is set to start at 10 a.m. on J Street between Sixth and 10th avenues, and continue until 7 p.m. It will include live bands and DJs, beverages from Mission and Stone breweries, and chow from local restaurants and food trucks.

Around 8,000 fans are expected to participate in the block party, which will help support the East Village Association.

To get to the block party and game, the Metropolitan Transit System said its mobile ticketing system will be available for the home-opening series and other weekend series throughout the season. Trolleys will be added for the home opener, according to the MTS.

According to the North County Transit District, a special Coaster train will leave the downtown San Diego Santa Fe Depot one hour after the final out. Passengers with Coaster tickets can also ride an Amtrak train that leaves at 9 p.m., and it will make the usual Coaster stops, the agency said.

The Padres are urging fans to enter Petco Park early because the game is sold out and fans will have to pass through metal detectors to gain entry. Like previous years, bags will be checked by security personnel.

Fans will receive a Padres fedora and a magnetized schedule cling.

Gates will open for the general public at 12:30 p.m. Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy will toss the game's first pitch at 3:40 p.m.

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