On July 7, San Diego Padres left fielder Jurickson Profar collided with shortstop C.J. Abrams. He tried to walk off the field twice but collapsed both times and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
Long time Padres fans may have flashed back to the ball off the bat of Albert Pujols that hit pitcher Chris Young in the face on May 21, 2008. Young also wanted to keep playing. But a fractured bones in his face, a small crack in his skull, and a deviated septum kept him out for more than two months. Fortunately, Profar’s injuries proved to be less severe than Young’s. However, at the time, manager Bob Melvin worried plenty about his player.
“We get (Profar) up and all of a sudden he goes back down again” manager Bob Melvin recounted. “Any time you put somebody on a stretcher like that, it’s an awful feeling, but like I said just looking at him and the way he is and trying to make everybody feel OK about it with a smile on his face makes you feel a little bit better.”
Diagnosed with a concussion and cervical strain in his neck, Profar spent the night in the hospital but showed up in the clubhouse the next day. If he’d gotten his way he would have returned immediately. Instead, he had to wait out concussion protocols
“If it was a playoff game, I think the next day I was ready to play,” Profar said while also admitting he needed to follow medical advice especially in the case of head injury.
Those who witnessed the event assumed Profar would be out for an extended period of time. Instead, he spent just one week on the concussion list and returned to left field Friday July 15, batting first as usual as if nothing had happened.
Profar’s insistence on returning as soon as possible may not have been medically advisable, but it’s further proof of Profar’s value to this Padres team. He’s a gamer who rarely takes a day off and has been one of the better hitters on a team that has struggled most of the season at the plate.
Of course, the addition of Juan Soto and Josh Bell automatically push the team to a higher level. But Profar, a journeyman who is in his ninth season, deserves credit for his contributions. He started his career with the Rangers (during A. J. Preller’s time in Texas), then moved on to the Oakland A’s, and arrived in San Diego in 2020.
Baseball Prospectus had high praise for the minor leaguer: “Long term, Profar has a chance to be a superior player, with plus chops with the glove and a plus bat; the kind of player that every org in baseball dreams of acquiring. It’s not just the tools that Profar brings to the table that make him special, it’s the instincts and feel that not only allow game utility but push the tools beyond their paper grade.”
However, Profar’s introduction to the majors in 2013 did not match the hype. Then a shoulder injury shut him down for most of 2014 and 2015. Finally the Rangers traded him to the Oakland Athletics, Melvin’s former team. At the end of the season in 2019, the A’s sent Profar to San Diego for Austin Allen and a player to be named or cash.
During his first year, Profar played 39 games in the outfield, 17 at second and one at first. The following year the Padres signed him to a three-year $21 contract. In 2020 he slashed .278/.343/.428/.771.
Although the 29-year-old has played all over the field in his career (first, second and third base and three outfield spots), the Padres have wisely deployed him in left field, his best defensive position.
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) August 10, 2022
But he’s received little credit for his offense especially during the first half of the season, when Padre bats languished. Overall this season he’s been near the top in most offensive categories:
Hits: 100 (2nd)
Runs scored: 63 (3rd)
Doubles: 25 (1st)
Home runs: 12 (3rd)
RBI: 47 (3rd)
TB: 165 (2nd)
BB: 54 (1st)
SB: 5 (3rd)
AVG: .252 (6th)
OBP: .362 (2nd)
SLG: .416 (4th)
OPS: .760 (3rd)
WAR: 3.4 (3rd)
With a salary of $7 million, Profar ranks near the bottom of the payroll and has more than proven his worth. His ability to get on base has put him at the top of the lineup often this season. Although, the Padres may decide to move him down when Fernando Tatis Jr. finally returns, Jurickson Profar would be a great table setter for Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, and Juan Soto. On the other hand, Soto is with Paul Goldschmidt as the leaders of all of baseball in on-base percentage at .413, which sets up a positive dilemma.
Wherever Profar bats, he’s proven to be a valuable member of the Padres as the team battles for a spot in the playoffs.