The Padres used Christian Bethancourt as their Designated Hitter in their first Inter-league game of the season against the Seattle Mariners Monday afternoon. They lost the game 9-3 with Bethancourt going 2-4.
The Padres do not exactly a problem of “too many” good hitters, and Bethancourt is still blocked by Derek Norris as the starting catcher so was the logical hoice. Unless you want Adam Rosales as the DH.
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First year Manager Andy Green said he took a look at a number of factors before deciding on Bethancourt: “In a sense it becomes a little bit easier because you don’t have to worry about hitting for the pitcher or anything like that. We’ve got Christian Bethancourt in there and he’s swung the bat very well this year for us … It shouldn’t be much different. We’ve got to come out and play good baseball.”
With the two hits, Bethancourt’s average is up to .267 with 4 home runs on the year. Starter Derek Norris went 0-3 and is down to a team low .179.
The Padres have a plethora of hot hitting outfielders in AAA but seem content to let Matt Kemp work out his struggles and Melvin Upton Jr.perform at the major league level, perhaps hoping they can work out a deal to include the large contracts by July to a contending team.
I still don’t see the harm in letting Norris take a back up role maybe even for the month of June to see what Bethancourt can do in a full time role and also let Norris work on some mechanical issues in better picked spots instead of letting his frustrations mount daily against top pitching.
Either one of them is trade bait with third catcher Austin Hedges in the minor leagues, but right now Norris is reducing his trade value everyday as his batting average plummets on top of the fact he has more service time than Bethancourt or Hedges. How long can the Padres realistically carry 3 major league starting capable catchers? How will they know if Bethancourt and/or Hedges is worthy for an everyday job?
At least for two games we get to see Bethancourt penciled in the starting lineup. The Padres go to Baltimore at the end of the month for their only Inter-League action before the All Star Break.