Blanks promoted in flurry of moves
Alfonzo, Cabrera, LeBlanc also join Padres roster
SAN DIEGO -- Kyle Blanks, considered the Padres' top prospect, arrived at PETCO Park on Friday to give San Diego's struggling offense a boost, to play some outfield, play a little first base and serve as the designated hitter in road Interleague games.
Some soft landing for the 22-year-old Blanks, who didn't start Friday's game against the A's at PETCO Park, though the 2008 Padres Minor League Player of the Year figures to see plenty of playing time moving forward.
"This is a situation where we thought that his bat might be able to help us in this part of the schedule ... with this left-handed pitching we're facing," said Padres manager Bud Black, noting the Padres face five left-handers in their next six games.
With the Padres facing the first of four consecutive left-handed starting pitchers Friday, Blanks, who was hitting .283 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs with Triple-A Portland, is certain to see some playing time, especially with veteran Cliff Floyd, the projected DH next week in Interleague Play, now on the 60-day disabled list with a torn right labrum.
That the Padres purchased Blanks' contract from Portland and placed Floyd on the DL were just two of a handful of roster moves the team made before Friday's game, moves that kept the home clubhouse doors at PETCO Park spinning.
The Padres placed catcher Nick Hundley on the 15-day disabled list with a contusion of the left wrist he injured on June 10 when he was plunked with a pitch. Hundley said that he aggravated the injury when he fouled off a ball on Thursday.
Hundley was replaced on the roster by catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, who was in the starting lineup on Friday. Alfonzo was hitting .306 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs at Portland.
Also, rookie shortstop Everth Cabrera was activated from the 60-day disabled list after recovering from a broken left hamate bone. Cabrera was in the starting lineup on Friday.
Infielder Josh Wilson and reliever Arturo Lopez, who was with Portland, cleared waivers when they were removed from the 40-man roster. Wilson was claimed by Seattle while Lopez was claimed by the New York Mets.
Finally, as expected, pitcher Wade LeBlanc was promoted from Portland to start Friday. LeBlanc replaced Chris Young in the rotation. Young went on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder and will likely miss at least two starts.
As for Blanks, he was hitting .370 in June and had made 15 starts in the outfield in 2009 with Portland, a position he only started playing in April.
The decision to have him take fly balls in the outfield in Portland was made late in Spring Training as Padres general manager Kevin Towers wanted to see if Blanks would take to the position after he arrived in Portland.
"The scouting reports were that he's done well," Towers said.
The move wasn't unlike the one Chase Headley made a year ago, when the third baseman was moved to the outfield. Headley, though, had the benefit of Spring Training in 2008 to learn the position before he was recalled from Portland by the Padres in June.
Several current members of the Padres who have played with Blanks this season say that the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Blanks held his own in the outfield, broke well on balls, both in front of him and behind him. Many said Blanks' athleticism made learning a new position easier.
"I've got a lot of advice from [Portland coach Max Venable and manager Randy Ready] and playing next to Will [Venable] was a big help. If I asked for help, he helped me. I think I made some good progress in that direction," Blanks said.
"I'm pretty comfortable. There's some things I need to work on and was trying to work on. It's a work in progress. I'm still trying to figure it all out."
Scoring runs has been a struggle for the Padres of late, as they've managed only one run over 29 innings during a stretch that ended on Wednesday. Black is hoping Blanks' bat can aid a team that is hitting .215 against left-handed pitchers.
"It works to give Adrian [Gonzalez] a DH day if we need to. It might give him a nice break in the middle of the season," Black said. "It's great to get Kyle exposed to the big leagues now that he's climbed the ladder in our system. We saw him a lot in Spring Training. He's continued to grow as a player. He's handled that well. He's done fine."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.