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.