Kyle Blanks started at designated hitter yesterday in a “B” game against the Mariners, marking the first time he’s faced live pitching in 10 months as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Blanks went 0-for-2 with one walk and two strikeouts, and John Maffei of the North County Times writes that “the results weren’t pretty.”
In his postgame assessment, Blanks seemed to agree that he was very rusty:
I’ve been tracking balls in batting practice, but this was the first live at-bats with the intent to hit the ball. I definitely felt competitive, but the reps just aren’t there. And those were the first breaking balls I’ve seen since early last season. I didn’t get ready, didn’t get set. I rushed myself. But I’ll take that to the bank and remember it. The last at-bat was bad. I haven’t see stuff like that for a long time.
Blanks will have plenty of time to shake off the rust, as he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list and, once ready, will head out on what figures to be a 20-day rehab assignment. Blanks is unsure about his official timetable, but did say: “One thing is for sure … I need to get some serious reps on the curveball machine.”
At just 24 years old the former top prospect remains a big part of the Padres’ long-term plans, but he’ll likely have to work his way back into the lineup with platoon job splitting time with left-handed hitters Will Venable or Brad Hawpe.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.