06/15/10 9:37 PM ET
New approach helping Gonzo rake off lefties
Padres face three consecutive southpaws beginning Tuesday
By Corey Brock and Gina Mizell / MLB.com
Gonzalez has been much-improved against southpaws this season, posting a .321 average with an on-base percentage of .424 and a slugging percentage of .464 in 84 at-bats. That's a dramatic increase from his .234/.339/.431 mark in 2009 and .213/.287/.387 clip in 2008.
Gonzalez said he has changed his approach against left-handed pitching this season, focusing more on driving the ball to the opposite field like he did in 2006 (when he hit .312 against lefties) than trying to pull it into the stands.
"I had success in '06, and then I went to a more just power mentality in '07, '08, '09," Gonzalez said. "Then this year, I just told myself I'm fine with getting all singles against them. I'm just trying to let the ball go the other way."
Padres manager Bud Black pointed to Gonzalez's game against Seattle's Cliff Lee on May 21, where he had four hits to left field, as a perfect example of Gonzalez's adjustments at the plate.
"The opposite-field hit became very prominent," Black said. "As we moved through the schedule from there, it just kept coming. He started hitting the home run and the average started climbing. He's seeing the ball well, taking what pitchers are giving him and driving the ball with authority the other way."
Gonzalez has 27 hits, 13 RBIs and three home runs against left-handed pitching this season, the biggest blast a walk-off grand slam to the opposite field in the 11th inning of the Padres' 5-1 victory over the Mets on June 2 against lefty Raul Valdes.
But Gonzalez has been finding success against just about everyone of late, as he has hit safely in 12 of his past 15 games while posting a .397 average with six home runs, four doubles, 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored during that span. He is now tied for second in the National League with 15 home runs.
Padres to make decision soon on Blanks
SAN DIEGO -- Outfielder Kyle Blanks, on the disabled list since May 18 with a strained right elbow, started his second Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Monday when he played with Triple-A Portland.
Blanks recently completed a 10-game stint with Class A Lake Elsinore, where he hit .270 in 37 at-bats with six walks and 12 strikeouts.
Blanks played his first game with Portland on Monday and started in left field. He went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.
Manager Bud Black said there's no timeline for how long Blanks will be in Portland, but the Padres will have to make a decision by Sunday, when his allotted 20-day stint in the Minor Leagues on rehab expires -- that means either recalling him back to the Majors or optioning him to Portland.
What do the Padres want to see from Blanks?
"Performance, good at-bats, hard contact, cut down on strikeouts," Black said.
San Diego's opening day starter in left field, Blanks was hitting .157 in 33 games in the bigs. He struggled with contact, striking out 46 times in 102 at-bats.
The team will hand out Kyle Blanks bobblehead dolls Saturday to the first 25,000 fans.
Torrealba hoping to avoid suspension
SAN DIEGO -- Padres catcher Yorvit Torrealba was in no mood to talk about his ejection from Monday's loss to the Blue Jays, though he ended up doing so anyway.
Torrealba was ejected by plate umpire Larry Vanover after taking a slider for a called third strike from Toronto closer Kevin Gregg, with one on and no outs in what beame a 6-3 loss.
Television replays showed some contact between Torrealba and Vanover, as the brim of Torrealba's helmet touched Vanover.
"It wasn't my intention," Torrealba said of the contact. "Hopefully next time, well ... hopefully there won't be a next time, I will take my helmet off."
San Diego manager Bud Black was hopeful that Torrealba won't incur the wrath of the Commissioner's office and that Torrealba won't miss time because of suspension.
Padres assign early Draft picks to Eugene
SAN DIEGO -- The short-season Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League begin their 2010 season on Friday with a game at home against Vancouver.
The Emeralds rosters, mostly filled with players selected in the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month, have signed their professional contracts and are already in Eugene preparing for the opening game.
The Padres' second-round pick, infielder Jedd Gyorko from West Virginia, is among the most notable players who have already inked their deals. Another infielder, fourth-round pick Chris Bisson of Kentucky, has also signed.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Gyorko hadn't taken a physical. Once that happens, the Padres will announce his official signing.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Gina Mizell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.