The San Diego Padres have seen a revolving door of players go on the disabled list.
Currently, two starting pitchers and two starting outfielders have spent significant time away from the big club because of injuries.
Trevor Cahill and Jered Weaver are finishing up rehab assignments in the minors before they return to the starting rotation. The same goes for Manuel Margot, who began a rehab assignment at Triple-A El Paso earlier this week. Margot was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 27 after suffering a strained right calf.
Travis Jankowski has been cleared to resume baseball activities. Jankowski has been out since late April. He originally was placed on the disabled list for a bone bruise after hitting a foul ball off his right foot during a game against the Miami Marlins on April 22.
In mid-May, the Padres announced that Jankowski also had a hairline fracture on his right foot, and would miss an additional six weeks. He is expected to return in July, likely after the All-Star break.
Both players have had an impact since being called up. Cordero has taken over starting duties in center field while Margot has been away.
Defensively, Cordero has been effective outfielder. In 37 total chances, he has 33 put outs and two assists, while committing only two errors, for a .946 fielding percentage.
Offensively, he has a .310 OBP and a .771 OPS since being called up. He has three home runs and nine RBIs.
Pirela has been a pleasant and much-needed surprise for a club going through a rebuild. This roster is full of young talent both in the majors and on the farm. Pirela is just one of those players.
Pirela was called up and played his first game this season with the Padres on June 6 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. After going 0-for-4 in his first game, the 27-year-old caught fire and went on a seven-game hitting streak.
Through 14 games, Pirela has a .351 batting average and a 1.018 OPS, the highest on the team for this respective category.
Pirela has spent a large majority of his time in left field. He has played a game at second base, making the start there against the Chicago Cubs on June 21. Regular second baseman, Yangervis Solarte, is currently out of the lineup with an oblique injury.
Once Margot and Jankowski return to the Padres, the front office will face a dilemma. How do they make room on the 25-man roster for these two? Pirela has been hot, and can play multiple positions, and Cordero has been a defensive asset in center.
One scenario is that Cordero is sent back to Triple-A El Paso. He’s been great in center, and at the plate, at least when he makes contact. He has a .425 BABIP, but it’s when he doesn’t make contact, that is a concern. He has a 42 percent strikeout rate, and has drawn a walk in only seven percent of his plate appearances. Going back to El Paso to work on not striking out could be beneficial to him. He’s only 22 years old, and he has a long career in the majors ahead. No need to rush him into anything right now.
Another scenario pertains to Solarte. He was thought to be all but gone to a new team by the trade deadline. However, with this sudden injury, that is up in the air. If he is traded, Pirela could take over at second. Most of his time in the majors has been spent at second base. He has played 46 games there, with 33 starts. The Padres also have Chase D’Arnaud who can play second, and could call up Carlos Asuaje.
If a Solarte trade does not happen, then the Padres will have to figure out how to manage a logjam. It would be a disservice to send Pirela down, given how well he has played. Before Jankowski’s injury, he struggled at the plate. He has struck out 21 times in 59 plate appearances, and was hitting just .160. He doesn’t appear to have much value to other teams. When Margot returns, he will return to being the primary center fielder. If Cordero is sent down, they will want to call him back up once he works out his strikeout issues. He has shown that he can be an asset to this club.
The next five weeks will certainly be interesting. Trades will happen, and the team will have some new faces after the trade deadline.
Will Solarte be in a Padres uniform after July? Will Jankowski return to his expected form?
If the answer to the first question is “no,” and the answer to the second question is “yes,” the front office will be forced to make some difficult decisions.