Matt Stairs has been placed on the DL with a knee injury possibly caused when he picked up his second stolen base of the season earlier this week (Yeah, yeah, Matt Stairs hurt himself on the steal, do your own joke…).
The Padres elected to fill Stairs’ 25-man-roster spot with outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who was recalled from Triple-A Portland.
Cunningham, 24, was batting a modest .239/.307/.383 with Portland, so this callup is a bit…unexciting.
Why Cunningham, then? Well, the Beavers’ top-hitting outfielder is Brad Chalk, who has only played in 13 AAA games and was dreadful in AA earlier this year, so he’s not really a candidate.
The most logical choice would probably be Mike Baxter, who’s at .285/.377/.484, but he’s not on the 40-man roster, so the Padres likely don’t want to DFA someone for him (But really, Padres? You think someone would claim Steve Garrison? Oh well…).
And yeah, if you want a 40-man guy, there is Luis Durango, who spent some time with the Padres earlier this year, but Durango’s utter lack of power doesn’t make him that much more appealing than Cunningham.
The one thing Cunningham has in his favor is that he’s hitting a robust .346/.433/.654 in June, so the Padres look like they’re attempting to ride the hot hand.
Cunningham has some experience in the bigs in parts of two years with Oakland, but he hit just .209/.269/.336 in 145 plate appearances, struggling to catch up to good fastballs and stay back on slow stuff. Throw Cunningham a slider, and he’ll kill it, but other than that, he just generally looked lost at the plate. Hopefully he’s over that now, but his overall AAA line doesn’t make me too optimistic.
Cunningham is a solid defender in the outfield corners who could handle center in a pinch (although in Petco, “in a pinch” doesn’t really cut it in center, so he’s best left in the corners).