PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) 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 Renfroe – 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.”
Green mentioned Alex Dickerson, Franchy Cordero, Travis Jankowski, Matt Szczur and Jose Pirela as others in the outfield competition, noting that Pirela also could spend time in the infield.
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 117 of his 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 and has said he is all-in about moving back to the outfield. 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 RBIs 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. Pirela hit .288 with 25 doubles in 83 games after a midseason promotion last year.
NOTES: Hosmer and the Padres completed their $144 million, eight-year contract Monday night. The team announced the signing after Hosmer passed his physical. The first baseman, who spent his first seven major league seasons with Kansas City before becoming a free agent this winter, can opt out of the deal after five years. The contract is the largest in club history. A four-time Gold Glove winner and 2016 All-Star, Hosmer will be introduced during a news conference Tuesday morning at Padres camp.
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