9/26/2013 11:50 P.M. ET
Padres impressed with Gyorko's breakout season
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- With 21 homers on the year, Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko is tops in the Majors in home runs by rookies, one ahead of the Braves' Evan Gattis. What makes the 25-year-old's power even more impressive, though, is that he has done it while manning second base, a position not usually known for its players' slugging.
In fact, Gyorko's 21 blasts are tied with Alexei Ramirez's rookie campaign in 2008 for the third most in history for a first-year second baseman. Only Dan Uggla (27 in '06) and Joe Gordon (25 in 1938) have hit more. The next closest rookie second baseman to Gyorko in 2013 is Seattle's Nick Franklin with 12.
"I probably have the most at-bats too, so I should be up there in the lead, but it's satisfying to be there," Gyorko said. "We still have a couple more games left, though, and they all still count, so I'm going to go out there and try to help win them all."
While Gyorko's pop may have caught some off-guard, Padres manager Bud Black said he noticed it from the beginning of the year.
"We saw it in Spring Training -- that there is a hitter in there," Black said. "His swing, his bat speed and his hand-eye coordination are all there. I think there's room to grow, too. There are some things he can learn from this year. It's great to have a guy at that position provide offense and play defense.
"He's doing great. It's nice to be able to look at our club moving forward and looking what Jedd has done this year and think, 'He could repeat it.'"
Kotsay honored before final game in San Diego
SAN DIEGO -- Playing in front of his home fans for the final time in his 17-year Major League career Thursday, Padres veteran Mark Kotsay was honored with a special ceremony prior to the club's 2013 Petco Park finale against the D-backs.
Joined at home plate by his wife and three children, Kotsay received a standing ovation from the crowd as three former teammates -- Trevor Hoffman, Mark Loretta and Phil Nevin -- presented him with a custom surfboard celebrating his career spanning three decades.
"The pregame was amazing, over the top and not expected, but it was very appreciated," Kotsay said. "It gave me and my family a lot of closure. As memorable as it could ever get."
Moments later, as the Padres were set to take the field for the top of the first inning, Kotsay jogged out to his position in left field by himself as both dugouts stood and applauded. The 37-year-old then took off his cap and waved all around the stadium before his teammates joined him for the start of the game. Throughout the ceremony, Kotsay appeared to be holding back tears.
"It's a moment I'll never forget," Kotsay said. "It was somewhat embarrassing and I felt naked. It's a team sport, we do things together and they left me alone. We'll have a talk about that on the bus ride to the airport."
The outfielder went 0-for-3 with a walk on the afternoon before exiting before the ninth inning. In his last at-bat, Kotsay had the chance to write a storybook ending to his memorable day, but with two men on in a tie game, he struck out swinging. The Padres did win, 3-2, in extra innings to cap off the festivities.
"Even striking out, I went down swinging," Kotsay said. "I've always been told you can't get off the island unless you swing; I just couldn't make contact. To win, collectively as a group though, that's what I love about baseball."
Kotsay, who announced his plan to retire at the conclusion of the season earlier this month, has three more games remaining in San Francisco against the Giants beginning Friday.
Robinson still excited after first hit in 'great night'
SAN DIEGO -- A few hours removed from his electrifying three-run pinch-hit homer for his first Major League hit Wednesday, Padres catcher Chris Robinson was still glowing Thursday afternoon, unable to hold back a smile when discussing his memorable evening.
"My phone didn't stop ringing until 3 a.m. San Diego time," the London, Ontario native said. "Then it started up again a couple hours later when people back home began waking up. It was a great night."
Hitless in five at-bats prior to the long ball Wednesday, the veteran of nine Minor League seasons desperately wanted to collect his first base knock before the year ends Sunday, but he never anticipated how it would eventually come.
"I might've been pressing a bit; you just want to get on the board and actually have a batting average," Robinson said. "Obviously, I'm happy with the way it worked out."
Though there are only three games left on the schedule after Thursday, Robinson isn't looking ahead to what this time in September means for him moving forward. He just wants to soak in as much of the experience as he possibly can and consider the rest later.
"I promised myself wouldn't think about that until I was done," Robinson said. "It's kind of funny actually, most of the guys are tired, so I think I might be one of the only ones who wants the season to keep going. But when it's over, I'll go back home to see my wife and kids, I'll get to be a full-time dad again."
Blanks gets breather to rest Achilles, shoulder
SAN DIEGO -- Hampered by nagging Achilles and shoulder discomfort, Padres first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks was out of the San Diego lineup Thursday for the club's home finale a day after manager Bud Black removed him from Wednesday's game in the seventh for rest and defensive purposes.
"Kyle is a little banged up but he's able to play," Black said. "I just thought today would be a good day for him to watch this one from the start and see where it ends up. There is a good chance he might be in there at some point in this game."
Blanks missed half of July and most of August on the disabled list with an Achilles injury, and he has batted .197 in 61 at-bats since returning.
"He's banged up like a lot of guys," Black said. "This time of year, there are a lot of guys that have bumps and bruises of 162 [games]."
• Black said Thursday that infielder Ronny Cedeno is "getting better, but still a little fuzzy," after being hit in the helmet with a pitch on Monday. The veteran hasn't played since.
• Named the 2013 Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year earlier this week, Triple-A Tucson general manager Mike Feder threw out the first pitch at the Padres game on Thursday at Petco Park. Feder is ending his 30-year career as a Minor League GM after this year, as the Padres' Triple-A affiliate will be located in El Paso in 2014.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.