The Padres had to do something after scoring just two runs while being swept by the Mariners over the weekend, and the hammer came down on Will Venable today, as the team demoted it’s primary right fielder and called up Blake Tekotte.
Venable, the Padres’ leader with 11 steals, was hitting just .224/.293/.291 with no homers and eight RBI in 134 at-bats.
Chris Denorfia, who had been playing over Venable against left-handed pitching, should be in line for an expanded role now. Denorfia has been the Padres’ best hitter at .333/.385/.500 in 84 at-bats for the season.
Tekotte is also due a long look. The 2008 third-round pick out of the University of Miami was hitting .291/.310/.486 with six homers and 14 steals for Double-A San Antonio. A left-handed hitter, he’ll see time against righties for the Padres. He was hitting .305/.431/.568 against them in the Texas League.
In choosing Tekotte, the Padres bypassed Aaron Cunningham, who is hitting a solid .288/.379/.460 for Triple-A Tucson. However, the team pretty clearly wanted a left-handed hitter, which Tekotte is. Ryan Ludwick, Cameron Maybin and Denorfia are all righties.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.