Anthony Rizzo

Padres demote Anthony Rizzo, add Kyle Blanks

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As it turned out, Anthony Rizzo wasn’t quite ready to make the big jump from the PCL to the majors.

After hitting just .143/.282/.265 with one homer and six RBI in 98 at-bats, Rizzo was sent back to Triple-A Tucson on Thursday.  He was 0-for-13 since play resumed after the All-Star break.

Taking his spot is big Kyle Blanks, who hit .351/.421/.716 with 11 homers and 35 RBI in 134 at-bats after replacing Rizzo at Tucson.  Blanks was long considered the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez at first base for the Padres, but San Diego decided it to try him in left field in 2009.  He hit, but he couldn’t stay healthy there, suffering a season-ending foot injury that season and then missing most of 2010 after Tommy John surgery.

Blanks is listed at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, so he always made a lot more sense at first base anyway.  Still, he’s not quite the talent that Rizzo is and it remains to be seen if he’ll fit into the Padres’ long-term plans.  He’ll probably take over as the Padres’ primary first baseman against righties for now.  Jesus Guzman had been starting over Rizzo against lefties and doing excellent work in that role.  Blanks, like Guzman, is a right-handed hitter, but he’s probably the better bet of the two versus righties.

Hopefully, Rizzo sees his first taste of failure in the majors as a learning experience.  Just 21, he was never supposed to see San Diego this year anyway, at least not until September.  He’s definitely a top talent, but he does need to cut back on the strikeouts a bit.  The Padres will probably leave him in Triple-A until rosters expand, and if things go as hoped, he can battle Blanks for the starting job next spring.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.