San Diego Padres: Who, What and I Don’t Know- The Infield
By Cheri Bell
The San Diego Padres have a lot of options to consider on the infield this spring. Fans should expect new faces to occupy most infield positions.
Hopefully many of you are aware of the classic Abbott and Costello comedy routine, Who’s on first, What’s on second and I Don’t Know’s on third. The San Diego Padres infield this spring reminds me of that routine.
Outside of Wil Myers, who appears to be the regular starter at first base, the other spots will feature many different faces this spring. The bit leaves out the shortstop position as part of the routine but that is the biggest question mark this spring.
While many of us went into this year assuming Yangervis Solarte will be the regular man at third, the beginning of the spring has changed that perception. Although we are barely into the second week of training, Padres manager Andy Green has vowed to shake it up this spring. Quoted in his morning media briefings, Green has stated a desire to move his pieces around and see what flexibility he possesses and who fits best in what spot.
So be prepared to see 40 man roster players Solarte, Cory Spangenberg and Ryan Schimpf playing both second and third. All three have experience at those two positions and the Padres need to put together the strongest infield possible both defensively and offensively going into the season. As a matter of record, Green has stated that Carlos Asuaje, largely thought to be a perfect utility candidate, will only play second this spring.
San Diego Padres
And then there’s shortstop. 40 man candidates, Luis Sardinas and Allen Cordoba, will compete with non-roster invitees Erick Aybar and Dusty Coleman for the majority of playing time this spring. Dark horse candidate Luis Urias has no chance of making this years roster but will see time in the position on the back fields, in practice and intra squad scrimmages. Andy Green has stated a desire to see if Urias has the range to switch to short from his usual position of second base.
The organization is high on prospect Urias but there are differences of opinion outside of the organization regarding his tools. Some see him as a hit first infielder with a strong enough arm but limited range and no power with average speed. At 19 years of age, it seems a little too soon to determine what Urias will become and giving him time at other positions beside second seems a risk free decision at this point.
As regards to this year, shortstop seems to be up for grabs. Veteran Erick Aybar, who played for Atlanta and the Tigers last season, is 33 years old and on the downside of his career. There is a question as to what is left in the tank. And I, for one, don’t want to see a repeat of last year’s mistake with Alexei Ramirez.
In house candidate Luis Sardinas is a bit of an enigma. Coming to the Padres last year, Sardines was considered a defense first player who struggled with the bat. In his 108 at bats with the Padres, Sardinas hit .287/ .353/ .417 with 13 RBI and 23 strikeouts. Prior to his trade from Seattle, Sardinas had a .181/ .203/ .264 line in 72 games with 5 RBI and 25 strikeouts. He played good defense in 2015 for Milwaukee, with 120 innings played and only one error.
With the Padres, Sardinas played 264 innings, committing 5 errors with less range than expected from him. Hopefully he has put in some work during the offseason to maximize his talent. He has the opportunity to win the starting job with a strong showing this spring.
Allen Cordoba was one of the three Rule V draftees (St Louis Cardinals) of the Padres for this season. He must stay on the 25 man roster in order for the team to keep him. His background is primarily at shortstop but there has been speculation that the Padres could keep him as a utility player if he can broaden his skill set this spring to include filling in at second and/or third base.
It remains to be seen if he is able to jump from A ball of last year to the major league roster of the Padres.
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The remaining candidate, Dusty Coleman, is a journeyman minor league shortstop who doesn’t seem to be a legitimate shot for the major league team but a depth acquisition for the minor league system.
Solarte, Schimpf and Spangenberg will all be seen playing third base this spring. As this spot is a traditional power position, Schimpf and Solarte would appear to be the better candidates. But if one of them works better in the second base spot, Spangenberg would provide speed to the lineup from the left side of the diamond and the power would come from second base.
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With all this being said, I look forward to the way this shakes down through the next month and a half. With only one player (Myers) appearing to be a lockdown in the infield, the Padres need to focus on putting the best defense up the middle while providing some support to the pitching staff with some offense.