For second baseman Jedd Gyorko, taking a step forward meant first taking one back.
Since being recalled to the Big Leagues in late June, Gyorko has hit .245 with three home runs, including a two-run home run Friday night against the Rockies that gave the Padres a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and another home run Wednesday against the Giants.
“I’m just seeing the ball a little better and getting myself in better hitter’s situations,” Gyorko said recently. “Working the count in my favor. Anytime you can do that, usually you get better pitches, and anytime you get better pitches, the results are there.”
Gyorko was sent to the minors June 10, after hitting .210 since the beginning of the season and struggling to get into the lineup on a consistent basis. He played 16 games with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas before getting the call to return to San Diego.
With El Paso, he hit .279 with four home runs.
“In my situation, I just needed to play,” Gyorko said. “That’s what I wanted to do. Obviously you always want to be in the big leagues, but at the time I was sent down there, there wasn’t much playing time to be had up here. I accepted that. It was fine. It was good to go down and get the regular at-bats, and I think it’s paying off.”
Padres manager Pat Murphy said he likes what he’s been seeing from his infielder.
“Jedd’s been great,” Murphy said. “I think he got a wake-up call. He got a wake-up call of, ‘They’re expecting more and I’ve got to take a look at my game, and see, what do I need to do?’ Obviously the way he’s come back and the way he’s approached the game has helped us a bunch. If you look at his batting average in late innings, he’s been tremendous. That’s what we’re looking for out of him.”
In times where Gyorko has batted in the seventh inning or later with the Padres tied, ahead by one, or with the tying run at least on deck, he’s hit .311, showing his prowess in clutch moments.
The Padres as a whole swung well enough to win since coming back from the All-Star Break, scoring five home runs in two games against the Rockies — although they found themselves in slump territory again in the final two games of the Giants series, with only ten hits, collectively.
It’s a matter of a few guys getting hot, really.
“It’s contagious,” Gyorko said. “When you see guys swinging the bat, it puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher, and then the pitcher gives up hits. It’s definitely something you keep building on and hopefully we keep it going.”