Alexi Amarista and Cody Ransom Figure to be Large Part of Padres April Infield Plans
Because Chase Headley and Logan Forsythe are scheduled to be sidelined for the entirety of this month, San Diego’s situation at third base is less than favorable. The Padres must press on however without Headley and Forsythe, and manager Bud Black recently told Padres.com beat writer Corey Brock what the team intends to do without their top two players at the position:
Last week, I suggested that the Padres use rookie Jedd Gyorko in Headley’s place during the All-Star’s absence, and start Alexi Amarista at second base. I guess that my idea was not too farfetched, because Amarista is set to play second base when the Padres face right-handed pitching.
Amarista will see some extended time at second base this April. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
I for one like the move from a two-fold perspective. First, Gyorko can gain some positional versatility, and receive some experience at a position he played for most of his minor league career. Plus, it will likely be Gyorko who will take over at “the hot corner” if Headley leaves via Free Agency in 2015. Amarista on the other hand will gain extended playing time at a position he is the most familiar with at the big league level (66 games). And I am sure that the Padres will be happy to utilize his speed on the base-paths as well.
To his credit, Alexi had himself a strong spring at the plate as he recorded a .310 batting average, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 9 runs batted in, and .342 on-base percentage. But Amarista must improve upon his offensive numbers from last season (.240 batting average and .282 on-base percentage).
Although Amarista did not perform terribly during his first extended big league stint (5 home runs and 32 runs batted in), he nevertheless struggled with plate discipline (17 walks to 42 strikeouts) and his numbers sagged towards the end of the 2012 campaign to the tune of a .198 batting average over the months of August and September (111 at-bats).
When he was signed in late December of last year, I for one did not expect Cody Ransom to contribute much to San Diego’s success in 2013. But with Headley and Forsythe out of the lineup, it will be up to Ransom to find a way to produce at the plate and in the field against left-handed pitching.
Ransom set career-highs last year in games (90), at-bats (282), hits (54), doubles (14), home runs (11), and runs batted in (42) as he spent the season with Arizona and Milwaukee. 2012 was far and away Ransom’s most productive year, because he had only accumulated 337 big league at-bats over his career from 2001-2011.
While the 37 year-old did not hit for average particularly well during the spring (.217), he did manage to show off some power. Overall, Ransom hit 4 home runs and drove in 8 in his 19 spring training games. Until Forsythe or Headley can come back though, the veteran utility player must find a way to hold his own at a position in which he has only played 80 career games at for the Padres.
As it stands, the Padres appear to have their plan in place to press forward during Headley’s time on the disabled list. How well once-projected backups in the forms of Ransom and Amarista can perform while Chase and Logan are out is a huge question mark at the moment though. While they do not need to play at an “All-Star level” with Headley sidelined, both of these players must produce and play well enough to not be liabilities to help their team navigate through a difficult first month.
Otherwise, it could be a very rough April for the Friars.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference