The Padres’ sleeper status in the NL West has already taken a hit: center fielder Cameron Maybin will miss 2-3 months with a ruptured biceps tendon he suffered making a diving catch in Sunday’s game.
The injury comes after Maybin was limited to 14 games last season with wrist and knee injuries. So, the Padres are used to playing without him. Nevertheless, he is easily their best defensive center fielder and he’s had his moments offensively, too, though his chronic wrist troubles have taken away from his game there.
With Maybin out last year, the Padres divided up playing time in center between Alexi Amarista (53 starts), Will Venable (52 starts) and Chris Denorfia (36 starts), with prospect Reymond Fuentes (seven starts) getting a look in September. Fuentes is the only one from that group who can hang with Maybin defensively. Amarista has the most range, but also the weakest bat, of the veterans.
The Padres will likely now give Fuentes a chance to make the team this spring. He had been ear-marked for Triple-A after spending most of last year in Double-A and hitting .330/.413/.448 in 400 minor league at-bats. If Fuentes makes the team, he could start in center against right-handers. If not, then it could be Venable in center and Denorfia in right most of the time. The Padres also have Seth Smith and Kyle Blanks as right-field options with Venable sliding over, but an outfield that starts Carlos Quentin in left, Venable in center and either Smith or Blanks in right would be pretty brutal defensively.