Padres add outfield depth with Cunningham
San Diego recalls 24-year-old from Triple-A Portland
PHOENIX -- The Padres announced Monday afternoon a roster move that, in the words of manager Bud Black, increases the club's flexibility and maneuverability for the stretch run.
San Diego recalled outfielder Aaron Cunningham, and, to pave the way for his return to the Major League roster, optioned right-handed reliever Luis Perdomo to Triple-A Portland.
Cunningham, 24, gives San Diego increased outfield depth, what with Tony Gwynn (right hand fracture) and utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. (right elbow sprain) traveling with the club but shelved on the 15-day disabled list. Additionally, outfielder Chris Denorfia (sore back) was scratched from Sunday's lineup, but said on Monday he was healthy enough to play. He was slated to man center field and bat seventh against D-backs starter Joe Saunders.
Cunningham not only offers insurance for all three teammates, he also totes a hot bat. He was hitting .324 over his last 10 games at Portland entering his third separate stint in the Majors this season. In 30 games with the Padres, he batted .312 (24-for-77) with 11 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs.
"You always want to be here as long as you can," Cunningham said from the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field. "But it's good to get your at-bats, a daily routine, playing every day and hopefully do the same up here."
Cunningham would have joined the club anyway on Thursday, when MLB rosters can be expanded from 25 to 40.
Perdomo, 26, is now among those likely to be a part of a handful Sept. 1 callups.
In two stints with the Padres this season, Perdomo pitched in just one game. He allowed one run in one inning in Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Phillies before learning of his demotion, which returns San Diego to a 12-man pitching staff.
"Right now there's a few guys that we think have outperformed him," Black explained. "He's a guy that we'll consider coming back up."
Young to be on pitch count in rehab start
PHOENIX -- The parameters for starting pitcher Chris Young's first game action since May 2 were set on Monday afternoon.
Padres manager Bud Black said Young will be held to three innings of work or between 50 and 55 pitches on Tuesday night, when he toes the rubber for Triple-A Portland.
"This is not unlike a Spring Training situation," Black explained before San Diego opened a three-game set in Arizona. "He's got to build up pitch count, got to build up just the consistency of his pitches in game-like conditions.
"If Chris does come back, we don't expect a nine-inning complete game."
Young, on the 60-day disabled list since April with a strained right shoulder, threw 55 pitches in an issue-free simulated game on Thursday at PETCO Park. He pitched for Double-A San Antonio in May but had a setback.
Gwynn hoping to return ahead of schedule
PHOENIX -- Tony Gwynn is a speedster, so it only makes sense that he is already ahead of schedule.
Gwynn, placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 21 with a fracture in his right hand, said as much before the Padres' series opener in Arizona on Monday.
The stitches in his hand (which he was able to flex without pain) will be removed on Wednesday, at which point Gwynn said he hopes to begin strengthening exercises. He has optimistically pinpointed an Oct. 1 return date, which falls in line with the estimated six-week recovery time from surgery.
Manager Bud Black, warning that as many as eight to 10 weeks could be required, offered a more cautious prognostication, saying, "That's probably better answered in the middle of September."
Gwynn first injured his hand -- specifically, breaking the hamate bone -- while swinging in an Aug. 18 game against the Cubs. He was batting .212 with 17 stolen bases and also strengthened San Diego's outfield defense. In the interim, he's had to sit and watch as his club has lost four straight, its longest skid of an impressive season.
"It's unlike us; I fully expect us to bounce back," Gwynn said. "We just try to keep [the losses] short-lived and try to move on."
Infielder Everth Cabrera, who was recalled from Triple-A Portland on Saturday, said his brief Minor League stint served as a refresher course. "I feel much better," he said. "I got like 20 or 22 at-bats down there, and I feel a little more comfortable. Just playing a little more, a little more; that gives you confidence." ... Just-recalled Aaron Cunningham watched as many Padres games as he could during his Portland assignment. Like his teammates, he viewed San Diego's current four-game skid, a season-worst, as nothing more than a hiccup. "I get upset even when they don't win," the reserve outfielder said, "because I was hoping I would be here at this time so we can be part of the playoffs." ... Manager Bud Black, a former Major League pitcher, on potential changes to make Chase Field less of a hitter's park: "I'm in for that. No doubt." ... Black did his best Joe Saunders impersonation, pitching part of batting practice at Chase Field prior to Monday's game.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.