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.