SAN DIEGO -- Outfielder Will Venable was back in the lineup on Wednesday, batting leadoff and playing center field after missing the previous two games against the Cubs at PETCO Park with a stiff lower back.
He put his back to the test right away. In the second inning, he robbed Alfonso Soriano of an extra-base hit with a catch at the wall in deep center field.
He outdid himself one inning later, robbing Aramis Ramirez of a two-run homer by reaching over the fence in left-center after a long run.
Venable, who hurt his back on Monday during the cool-down period following batting practice, did some running and hitting before Wednesday's contest to prove the injury had healed enough to allow him to get back on the field.
The workout was watched by manager Bud Black, first-base coach Rick Renteria and trainer Todd Hutcheson.
"I came here telling them that I felt good, but I was given the opportunity today to go out and physically show them that I was OK," Venable said. "I did enough to make them think, and to make myself think, that I'm ready to go, which I am. It's all good."
Venable's bat could provide a boost to an anemic offense that has scored a total of two runs on eight hits in its past two games. Venable is riding a nine-game hitting streak and batting .462 over his last 16 games with an at-bat, and he's hitting .373 this month.
"I'm confident that what I'm going to do is going to be enough to put some good swings on the ball," he said. "It sucks that I had those two days where I wasn't able to do anything, but hopefully I pick up where I left off and can get on base a couple times."
Gonzalez clarifies comments about Cubs
SAN DIEGO -- Adrian Gonzalez reiterated on Wednesday that his current focus is on the Padres' playoff push and not switching uniforms, after an article in Tuesday's Chicago Sun-Times that alluded that the All-Star first baseman is interested in playing for the Cubs when he becomes a free agent in 2012.
"[The reporter] was being hypothetical about 2012, and so was I," Gonzalez said. "He just wanted to ask me questions about the future, and I said if I become a free agent, I'm going to listen to any offer.
"He didn't misquote me at all, but I think the story was turned into something that I didn't expect, especially the way the interview started and the direction it was going. We were talking about their players and wondering if they have a future in the next year or so. I thought that's what we were talking about."
Gonzalez is surprised that the story and his comments created a stir during a time when the Padres are fighting to get into the postseason.
"The fans' reaction was totally off," he said. "I think they took this, and because we're losing, they wanted to turn it into something else. If we would have won those two games, I don't think they would have made anything out of it. If I would have gotten three hits [last night], they wouldn't have made anything out of it."
Gonzalez was 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in the first two contests of the four-game set with the Cubs at PETCO Park. He also committed a fielding error at first base in the loss to the Cubs on Tuesday.
Black not surprised by Tejada's tear
SAN DIEGO -- It's no secret that the Padres have scuffled offensively in September, going 11-15 with a team batting average of .233 -- 12 points lower than their previous lowest totals this season, in June and August.
Shortstop Miguel Tejada is one of the players who continues to swing a hot bat. Heading into Wednesday's game against the Cubs, he is hitting .286 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in September.
None of this surprises manager Bud Black, who saw plenty of Tejada during his seven seasons as the Angels' pitching coach.
"He's got a good, short swing, he's got strength, he knows how to hit and he knows his game," Black said. "Overall, he has an idea, an approach about what he wants to do each and every at-bat.
"I saw Miggy firsthand for those years [when he played] in Oakland, and this guy's a good player on both sides."
Black indicated that Tejada has had an influence on the team that extends beyond the playing field, which is something he was told about when the Padres traded for him on July 29.
"His leadership comes in a number of forms, primarily in the way he prepares every day to play and plays hard. No excuses, and that's refreshing. He's not overly vocal, but what he says carries a lot of weight," Black said.
"He's well respected just because of how he plays and how he prepares to play. He plays with a certain intensity, and yet he's relaxed. It's a great way to be a leader, for me, and you hear a lot of ex-teammates say he was one of their all-time favorites."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.