A couple of weeks ago, Wil Myers felt a twinge in his arm. Last week, Manuel Margot took a baseball to his ribs. The team has played the last week-plus without both players, but it appears that they will be back with the team soon. Wil Myers has been rehabbing in Lake Elsinore the last few days, and Margot was seen taking batting practice from Kirby Yates the other day. With both expected to return as soon as this weekend, where will the rest of the Padres outfielders play?
- Jose Pirela has been one of the steadiest bats for the Padres, while also being one of the most unreliable defenders. Even though his glove is an adventure anywhere he plays, he’s one of only three Padres hitters (joining Christian Vilalnueva and Eric Hosmer) to have produced positive offensive value over the last two weeks. Manager Andy Green has given Pirela a starting outfield spot in each game of the season, and expect that to continue. This makes things tricky for the guys further down in this list.
- Matt Szczur has seen playing time mostly as a late-game replacement, but he’s been sneaky productive in what time he’s had. His .294 AVG and .333 OBP have made him useful at the plate, even though he’s had a complete lack of power. With no minor league options, he’s on the MLB roster until the team decides to designate him for assignment.
- Franchy Cordero was called up when Margot hit the DL. Technically, Franchy had spent the first weeks of the season on a rehab assignment, so he hasn’t been optioned yet this year. Since joining the big league team, he went 6-for-22 with two homers in his first six games but has now gone 0-for-9 while his K% has spiked to 37.5%. As much as we all love the potential from his power/speed athleticism, he needs a daily starter’s workload to polish the plate discipline and hitting approach. He’ll probably get optioned to El Paso when Margot comes off the DL.
- Hunter Renfroe is the toughest player to project here. With Myers, Margot, and Pirela penciled in for starting roles and Szczur apparently entrenched as the 4th outfielder, Renfroe may be on the outside looking in. While his power is legit, his lack of on-base skills and spotty outfield defense has him playing like a one-dimensional player. His propensity to swing hard at everything gives him a nice ISO% but it seems like he’s walking back to the dugout looking like the photo to the right all too often. Last year he was optioned to El Paso, where he tore the cover off the ball for a month before coming back up with an improved approach. He seemed to react to breaking balls a little more, he handled pitches at the bottom of the zone better, and he spit on some bad pitches that he might have flailed at prior to his assignment. It didn’t take long to fall back into old habits, and it looks like he’s back in those same habits now. Perhaps another session in AAA might do him some good. If he stays on the MLB roster, there won’t be consistent playing time for him. A player who needs to shore up his approach at the plate needs reps to ingrain those ideas.
The return of Manuel Margot and Wil Myers presents several questions for the Padres outfield. With some players struggling at the plate and in the field, a knock to the ego and some time to work on their weaknesses might do them some good. The lineup will look much better with two of the most talented bats back in the swing of things.