It is no secret that the San Diego Padres are experimenting with their young roster this spring, and who could blame them?
San Diego Padres’ manager Andy Green has already indicated his willingness to innovate and consider strategies not common in baseball. Now there’s at least a chance that the team may try a unique use of starting pitchers in spring training and experiment with the outfield alignment.
The Padres have already made news with their attempt to add pitching and fielding to catcher Christian Bethancourt’s repertoire. Why not consider deploying starting pitchers in different ways and play the right fielder in center with two burners at the corners?
Specifically, Green has pondered having his starter only face the opposing batters once through the lineup and then bringing in another starting pitcher, mixing righties and lefties. However, only the first two of the current group in the depth chart (Clayton Richard, Christian Friedrich, Jered Weaver, Jhoulys Chacin, Luis Perdomo, Trevor Cahill, Jarred Cosart and Paul Clemens) throw left-handed. That fact alone limits the options. Also, baseball players, especially pitchers, being creatures of habit, this use could cause havoc with their psyches, to say nothing of their arms.
To further complicate the situation, Perdomo, had never pitched above high A before A.J. Preller chose him in the Rule-5 draft. He pitched out of the bullpen at first and then moved to the starting rotation, showing flashes of brilliance alternating with a lack of experience. As the most promising of the bunch by far, Perdomo might be better suited to spending more time in the minor leagues at least at the start of the season. Of course, that option would definitely weaken the rotation even further.
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The experiment in the outfield would place Hunter Renfroe in center rather than right, with Travis Jankowski and Manuel Margot manning the corner spots. On the surface, the idea appears ludicrous. However, on closer inspection, there may be a method to the madness.
Renfroe did play center in more than 30 games in his minor league career, so the position is not completely foreign. His plus throwing arm would play well in center, and Jankowski and Margot could make up for the ground he can’t cover. But the Padres may also give Margot a little more time in the minors and Alex Dickerson an extended look in left to decide his future in the crowded outfield.
No one, including the front office, expects the Padres to be in contention this year, so why not experiment and try creative ideas?