Mike Shildt made genius managerial decision with unexpected Padres' FA signing

Look who's become relevant.
San Diego Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar
San Diego Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar / Denis Poroy/GettyImages

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith may have awoken a sleeping giant. A couple weeks back, the Dodgers' backstop referred to Jurickson Profar as "irrelevant." Well, the San Diego Padres outfielder has been anything but that over the past couple of weeks.

Padres manager Mike Shildt made the move a few games back to remove Xander Bogaerts from the leadoff spot, and instead went with the veteran Profar. To date, it's been a genius maneuver on the part of the Padres' skipper and the results speak for themselves.

Profar's bat was big reason why the Friars were able to escape their most recent series with the Cincinnati Reds having won two of three games. It was San Diego's first series win since mid-April against another NL Central team, the Milwaukee Brewers.

Padres manager Mike Shildt made genius managerial decision moving Jurickson Profar into the leadoff spot

Profar was 4-for-4 with two RBI during Wednesday's series finale against the Reds, and while Jake Cronenworth's grand slam put the Friars up for good, it was the San Diego outfielder's base hit against Cincinnati's best reliever that set the table for the seventh-inning fireworks.

Profar lifted one of the most difficult pitches in Major League Baseball — Fernando Cruz's split-finger fastball — over Reds' second baseman Jonathan India and into right field. Two batters later, Cronenworth's grand slam broke the 2-2 tie and helped the Friars leave Petco Park with a W.

Profar is riding an eight-game hitting streak in which his slash line is an impressive .500/.546/.767. Profar has now been the Padres' leadoff hitter four times and is hitting .625/.647/.938. When Bogaerts was acting as the Friars' leadoff batter, the second baseman was hitting a meager .212 with a .567 OPS.

Profar was an afterthought this offseason. Among the rumblings of using a Jackson Merrill in left field and maybe even bringing back Tommy Pham, Profar's signing went somewhat unnoticed. But the Friar faithful are paying attention now.

It's unclear how much longer Shildt continues with the current lineup, but with a brutal nine-game stretch against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers up next, the Padres' manager would be foolish to shake things up right now. The Padres' series victory over the Reds showed that they can compete with one of the better teams in the National League, and they'll need to do the same over the next week-plus with more of the NL's top teams on the docket.

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