Don’t Forget Padres Leftovers

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By ANDREW BURER
So much was made about the Padres’ wild offseason overhaul.
Rightfully so. It was unprecedented.
But what could be the difference for the Padres is not necessarily the new influx of offense. It’s the old.
Yes, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Derek Norris add much-needed power to what once was a meager lineup. Aside from what they will contribute, though, they’ll provide stability to an order that was constructed 157 different ways last season.
What that will do for what’s left of the Padres’ foundation cannot be understated.
Rife with potential, first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jedd Gyorko should flourish in the Padres’ new-look lineup.
Alonso, who batted everywhere from third to eighth in 2014, agreed that consistency in the lineup helps hitters.
“It brings a sense of peace knowing you’re going to be in the lineup, knowing where you’re going to be,” Alonso said. “You kind of form yourself into your role and knowing what you have to do to help the team win.”
As a lefty in a predominately right-handed lineup, and no longer having to be the power threat that he isn’t, there’s no reason to think Alonso can’t regain his 2012 form when he led all rookies with 39 doubles. Plus, offseason surgery on his right forearm should help mitigate the hand and wrist injuries that hampered him the past two seasons.
After a monster 2013 rookie campaign, Gyorko struggled mightily in 2014 while battling — the all-too-familiar foot problem San Diegans have become accustomed with — plantar fasciitis (see Antonio Gates).
The Padres’ anemic offensive start to last season, coupled with the five-year, $35-million extension Gyorko signed in April, only heightened the expectations.
“There was Jedd, hitting third, hitting fourth, a lot on this kid as a second-year player,” manager Bud Black said. “There was a lot going on, whether Jedd was trying to live up to the expectation of a multiyear contract, the birth of twins. I think, probably more than anything, major-league pitchers making adjustments and Jedd maybe not adjusting back fast enough and trying to do too much, trying to help the team get out of our early funk and a lot of guys were guilty of that.”
Gyorko, who batted third in the order, as low as seventh, and everywhere in between, has only himself to worry about this year. He won’t come close to the 218 at-bats he saw in the three and four spots in 2014. He’s healthy. His contract, while a nice chunk of change, is paltry compared to what Kemp, Upton, and Shields are making this year (not to mention that Gyorko’s 2015 salary is the 14th lowest on the team).
“The solid year in ’13, the up-and-down ’14 sort of puts him now in a spot where mentally he gets it a little bit better,” Black said.
A lack of offense won’t be a problem for the Padres this year. The big bats are finally here, and the remnants of the Padres’ foundation knows the lineup is on solid ground.
+ Follow Andrew Burer on Twitter @andrewburer.

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