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Padres sign Skip Schumacher to minor league contract

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As reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Padres have signed veteran utilityman Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract. Rosenthal referred to Schumaker as an infielder, which is also what I thought of him as, but it turns out he's actually played more major league games in the outfield- 561 to 487. In defense of both Rosenthal and my memory, Schumaker has started more games in the infield- 435 to 307. However, all of those 435 starts and 561 total appearances in the infield have been at second base, so "infielder", while technically accurate, is a bit deceptive.

An eleven-year big league vet, Schumaker was at his best for the Cardinals, with whom he spent eight seasons, beginning in 2005. As a rookie that year and the next, as well as the following two seasons, Schumaker was used strictly in the outfield before being shifted to second base in 2009, his second season as a regular. From then through his lone year with the Dodgers in 2013, he started primarily at second base while still making appearances at all three outfield positions. Upon joining the Reds before the 2014 season, Schumaker moved his focus back to the outfield, as Brandon Phillips was - and continues to be - firmly entrenched at second base. In addition to his time in the outfield and second base, he has also made four appearances on the mound- once with the Cardinals in 2011, twice with the Dodgers in 2013, and once with the Reds in 2014.

Schumaker has never had any particularly compelling offensive seasons, although he did hit slightly over .300 in two seasons as a regular, and that always looks nice on paper and in pixels. Those two years, 2008 and '09, were his best all-around, and nearly identical in output. Schumaker slashed .302/ .359/ .406 with 22 doubles, five triples, and eight home runs in 2008; all of those extra-base hit totals were career highs, and the latter two tallies still are. He followed that up with a .303/ .364/ .393 campaign, hitting 34 doubles, a triple, and four homers. He finished those seasons with barely above average OPS+ outputs of 103 and 102, respectively. Most recently he hit .242/ .306/ .336 with 20 doubles and a lone round-tripper in 268 plate appearances over 131 games for Cincinnati last season.

One would assume that Schumaker's deal includes an invitation to major league Spring Training, where he'll compete with fellow offseason minor league signees Adam Rosales and Jemile Weeks for a spot on San Diego's bench. At least the one writing this would assume that. I also wouldn't be surprised if he ends up working with coaches and instructors to expand his versatility to other infield positions. We all know the tired saying about old dogs learning new tricks, but if Schumaker - who turned 36 last week - wants to stick with the Padres once camp breaks, it certainly couldn't hurt. While Schumaker being a left-handed batter is a point in his favor, Weeks - who is also primarily a second baseman - is a switch-hitter. Rosales is a righty at the plate, but he brings a history of versatility to the table, so they all have something to offer. Who has a seat when the music stops remains to be seen, so anything any of them can do to boost their stock will mean the difference between five-star room service and soggy fast-food fries.