4/17/2014 11:17 P.M. ET
Padres sing praises of versatile Denorfia
By Scott Miller / Special to MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Say one thing for Padres ace Andrew Cashner: He's pretty good at deflecting praise. Following his win over the Rockies on Wednesday, the big right-hander went out of his way to compliment outfielder Chris Denorfia as "the most underrated player in the National League."
There is probably a case to be made in that respect, certainly one for Denorfia being as versatile a player as there is in the league.
"He does a great job anywhere we put him," manager Bud Black said. "He's very dependable in whatever situation we thrust him into. Defensive substitution, pinch-runner, pinch-hitter, outfielder.
"We put a lot on Deno in any situation, and we feel comfortable with how he handles it."
One situation in which Denorfia, in his fifth season with the Padres, has excelled is against left-handed pitching. He's hitting .315 against lefties since the start of the 2011 season, the best average in the NL during that time (minimum 400 at-bats).
As for Cashner's "underrated" praise, Denorfia made a point to dwell on the team concept. "It sounds to me like we're starting to pull for each other," he said. "That's what we've been stressing, especially in this division with these payrolls. We're going to have to stick together."
The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.
"He's an integral part of what we as San Diego Padres have to do to win," Black said. "Move around, mix and match."
Headley still dealing with biceps strain
SAN DIEGO -- Chase Headley's season of soreness continues. Already battling an achy right knee for much of the early going, the Padres' third baseman was out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive day Thursday with a mild right biceps strain as San Diego wrapped up its four-game series with the Rockies.
Despite the injury, Headley was able to notch a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning of the Padres' 3-1 loss.
Headley is confident he will avoid the disabled list, and manager Bud Black seemed to agree, though he noted that a couple more days of missed action will test that notion. In Headley's absence, Alexi Amarista has been starting at third. But beyond that, there really is no other option on the bench right now.
"We can hang in there as long as we pitch well enough to keep all of the games close and we don't have to make a lot of moves in a game," said Black, who met with general manager Josh Byrnes and assistant GM A.J. Hinch to discuss a variety of issues. "In the National League, it's difficult to play one man down."
That's when Black mentioned he figures the Padres can maintain without Headley for "five or six" days, but not beyond that. Headley felt the biceps strain while hitting in the cage before Wednesday's game, but he admitted that throwing has been a chore in recent days.
"It was fine until I really had to let one go," he said.
Headley surmises that compensating for his sore knee compromised his arm.
"When I'm right, I really use my legs to throw," he said.
But lately, he said, he hasn't had his legs under him. One benefit from resting the biceps is that his knee will also get time off.
"The knee is definitely getting better," he said. "I don't think it will be something that will be gone. We're going to have to stay on top of it for a bit of time."
Cashner in midst of dominant run on mound
SAN DIEGO -- With a 1.27 ERA and zero clunkers after four starts, few pitchers have as much momentum as right-hander Andrew Cashner does right now. Each start, it seems, energizes everything around him -- from the dugout to the standing ovations he's received at Petco Park.
"From center field, I got to see the frustration of some of the [Rockies' batters]," Chris Denorfia of Cashner's strong outing on Wednesday. "He's really coming into his own as something special."
The numbers are stacking up to support Denorfia and everyone else who feels that way.
Over his past 10 starts dating back to Aug. 19, Cashner owns a 0.99 ERA and is holding opponents to a .175 batting average while surrendering two earned runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts. That is the third-longest active streak in the Majors behind the Dodgers' Zack Greinke (15) and the Marlins' Jose Fernandez (13).
The streak is also the fourth longest in Padres franchise history -- and the longest since Mat Latos went 15 consecutive starts from June 10-Sept. 7, 2010.
• Starter Josh Johnson is expected to visit noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday for another examination. Black said Johnson has discomfort in both his right forearm and elbow.
"I think it's everything," Black said. "Discomfort in the back of his elbow, and discomfort on the medial side as well. They're going to look at the flexor ligament."
• One infielder who would be first in line to join the Padres if they need to place Headley on the DL is Ryan Jackson, but Jackson is out with a wrist injury and is expected to have surgery. He was examined in San Diego by team doctors this week.
• Outfielder Cameron Maybin, rehabbing at Triple-A El Paso, has 12 at-bats under his belt but remains a ways away.
"He's got to keep playing," said Black, who figures Maybin will need at least 30 at-bats, and possibly more.
Scott Miller is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.