PEORIA, Ariz. — Now that San Diego’s first base position is in Eric Hosmer‘s $144 million hands, it seems as if there are 144 million candidates for the one remaining starting spot in the Padres’ outfield.
Wil Myers will move to one of the corner spots after playing first base the previous two seasons, manager Andy Green said, and Manuel Margot remains a fixture in center field after a notable rookie season in 2017.
That leaves the other seven holdovers who made at least 20 starts in the Padres’ outfield last year — including power bat and 2013 first-round draft pick Hunter Renfoe — in the mix for final starting position and the reserve roles.
“He’s right in the thick of that competition,” manager Andy Green said of Renfroe, adding, “we didn’t have to have a (roster) move to cause that to happen.”
Renfroe slashed .231/.284/.457 with 26 homers last season but was optioned to Triple-A El Paso in mid-August to work on his ability to get on base. He drew 17 walks in his first 54 games but had only four walks in 130 plate appearances between June 29 and his demotion.
Renfroe, who made all of his 117 outfield starts in right, again showed power when he returned. He had six homers, including a three-homer game against Arizona on Sept. 20, but walked only once in 44 plate appearances.
“There were definitely some positive signs, things we were encouraged by,” Green said of what he saw when Renfroe came back.
“Just like every young player, there is stuff to learn and continue to grow,” he said.
New hitting coach Matt Stairs, assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington and new first base coach Skip Schumaker should help in the development, Green said.
“They are going to serve him very well,” Green said. “Skip Schumaker, the one thing I will tell you about him, he will be all over everybody to do it the way that is right. He was raised in that environment, coming up with Tony La Russa teams.”
Myers, who played center field with the Padres in 2015, has begun taking flyballs in the outfield and has said he is all-in about moving back. He is under contract through 2022 after signing a six-year, $83 million deal last year.
“We see him as a guy who can play the corners ably at both positions,” Green said.
“I’d say probably the majority of reps between those positions would be leaning toward right. We’ll give him exposure to both and kind of watch and see. Listen to him, too. How he is seeing the ball in both places. Naturally he is probably a little bit more comfortable in right, but we are going to have to see about the roster composition, too,” he said.
Margot, a prized piece of the deal that sent Craig Kimbrel to Boston in November 2015, slashed .267/.323/.426 with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases primarily from the leadoff spot last year.
“My expectation is that he competes to win a Gold Glove in center field … and anchors the outfield and continues to go about his work with a 100-runs-scored mentality,” Green said.
Dickerson missed all of last season, undergoing back surgery in June after rehab was ineffective. He had 10 homers in 84 games as a rookie in 2016.
Cordero was the most valuable player and rookie of the year in the Dominican winter league after hitting .323 with 25 RBI in 50 games with Escogido.
Jankowski missed much of last season with a fractured foot after stealing 30 bases in 131 games in 2016.
Szczur played on the Cubs’ 2016 World Series team. Pierla hit .288 with 25 doubles in 83 games after a midseason promotion last year.
Los Angeles Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, 8th straight division title
LOS ANGELES — Corey Seager had three hits, including one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, as the Dodgers clinched the National League’s top postseason seed and eighth straight West title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.
Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Dustin May went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.
Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.
Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas.
Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort.He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28.
Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Manager Dave Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Marcell Ozuna, Braves beat Miami, clinch 3rd straight NL East title
Bryse Wilson pitched five scoreless innings, Marcell Ozuna drove in five runs with four hits that included two homers and the Atlanta Braves clinched their third straight NL East title by beating the Miami Marlins 11-1 on Tuesday night.
After Jorge Alfaro lined out to Freeman to end the game, Braves players hugged on the field and exchanged high-fives in the dugout.
Wilson (1-0) allowed three hits and one walk, striking out a career-high seven. It was an unexpected showing by the 22-year-old right-hander, who had a 7.04 ERA in four relief outings and had been at the team’s alternate training site until Monday. He had not started since July 16 last year at Milwaukee.
Atlanta clinched its record 20th division title, one more than the New York Yankees. The Braves won 14 straight in completed seasons from 1991-2005 but have not won a postseason series since 2001 and have not won a championship since 1995.
Miami remained in position to earn its first playoff berth since winning the 2003 World Series.
Ozuna hit a first-inning homer off Jose Urena (0-3), who allowed four runs in six innings. Ozzie Albies homered in the second, and Ozuna added a two-run double in the fifth and drove in Freeman with a 450-foot homer to center field in the eighth.
Manager Brian Snitker said the Braves were prepared for a low-key celebration, due to social distancing rules in the pandemic. He said Major League Baseball “pretty much restricted all that” due to space constraints in the clubhouse.
“I think we go in and air high-five to everybody,” Snitker said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Chicago Cubs lose 3-2 to Pittsburgh Pirates but still clinch playoff berth
It’s David Ross’ first trip to the postseason in his first season as the Cubs’ manager.
“It’s nice,” Ross said after the game. “Super proud. Thankful for the group I have. It’s very rewarding for that group in there that’s put in the hard work in a unique atmosphere.”
The Cubs got off to a fast start, winning 13 of their first 16 games to take command in the National League Central, where they’ve been in first place since the season opener. Their success has been tied to their pitching staff, which ranks third in ERA in the National League.
But Chicago’s offense has slumped since the quick beginning to the season. The Cubs rank 22nd in OPS and are hitting under .200 against left-handed pitching.
“It’s a lot of credit to us for not being in sync the whole year and grinding through and getting wins,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s a full team effort and that’s what it’s going to take to be the last team standing.”
The Cubs have a history of making the postseason after changing managers. In 2003, Dusty Baker led the Cubs to a division title in his first season; Lou Piniella did the same in 2007. Joe Maddon also made it to the playoffs in 2015, his first season at the helm. Ross was a player on that 2015 team.
“There is so much to be proud of and thankful for from my seat,” Ross said. “They came in ready to summer camp and it showed.”
In the coming days, the Cubs are in good position to clinch their third division title since 2016 and host the first round of the playoffs at Wrigley Field, where they produced the lowest batting average in history there this season (.210). But Chicago features several October tested starters, including Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. And many of the core players are still there from when the team won the World Series in 2016.
“To be one of the playoff teams is very exciting,” Rizzo said. “It’s something that we’re going to not take for granted because this is not easy.
“It’s [the playoffs] a whole different beast. It’s a different game. It’s a different vibe.”
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