Injuries are simply an unfortunate part of the game of baseball.
As I am sure all of you know, San Diego’s star third baseman Chase Headley broke his thumb when he tried to disrupt a double play against the Angels. The N.L. leader in runs batted in last year is projected to be out for four to six weeks, and the Friars will begin the 2013 campaign without their #3 hitter and 2012 Gold Glove Award winner.
So what can San Diego do in the mean time about their “third base situation” until Headley returns?
The way I see it, the Padres might have to employ a “third baseman by committee” until Chase can return to the lineup at full strength.
At least to me, the most logical choice to fill in for Headley at the “hot corner” is Rookie Jedd Gyorko. A third baseman in college at West Virginia, Gyorko also played the position full-time until he started to receive reps at second base at the Double-A level. Although Jedd has essentially won the starting second base gig over the last month, the team could look to transition him back to third base until Chase returns to the lineup healthy. I for one would not mind seeing Gyorko take extended big-league reps at Headley’s spot, especially due to the fact Chase could be traded in the very near future and Jedd is more than likely to be his “heir apparent.”
When he played at the University of Arkansas, Logan Forsythe was actually a third baseman. In fact, the former Razorback was moved to the middle infield primarily because of Headley’s presence. Luckily for Logan and the Padres, he has taken at least logged some experience at the third base position over his short big league career (30 games combined between 2011 and 2012). Forsythe’s transition to third would allow for Gyorko to stay put at second and gain more experience at the position too. Of course for the versatile Forsythe to fill-in for Headley, he must find a way to stay healthy himself.
If Gyorko and Forsythe do not interest the Padres as “fill-ins” for Headley over the next month, then San Diego could ask the “Little Ninja,” Alexi Amarista, for help. While Amarista has almost no experience at third base (8 games at the minor league level last year), his athleticism, quickness, and versatility could make him a viable ”fill-in” option if Gyorko or Forsythe need time off, or are playing other positions. To his credit, Alexi has enjoyed a strong spring at the plate. Overall, Alexi has logged a .340 batting average in 53 at-bats, scored 12 runs, clubbed 4 doubles, 2 home runs, and driven in 9 rbi’s. Even if Gyorko moves to third base, Amarista could see quite a bit of time at second base, especially against right-handed pitching.
I hate to be a “Negative Nancy,” but Headley’s absence through the season’s first month will likely sink the Padres. While a division and postseason berth cannot be won in April, it can definitely be lost if a team absolutely tanks to begin a season. I’m sure we all recall how San Diego’s offense struggled without Carlos Quentin last year. I also remember how the Padres were 20 games under .500 in the middle of June as well. No matter how awesome the Friars were down the stretch last year, their putrid performances in April, May, and June obliterated any postseason hopes for them.
I will be anxious to see how well Headley’s replacement, or cavalcade of replacements, fill in for him in his absence. But I for one do not hold out much hope that San Diego’s lineup will be nearly as potent without Chase or Yasmani Grandal over the first month/month and a half of the year.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference