The San Diego Padres have a lot of options entering spring training regarding their 25-man roster.
There are some open spots that will result in a few competitions during the spring.
Arguably the most intriguing spot, in a potential position battle, is second base. Ryan Schimpf, Cory Spangenberg, and Carlos Asuaje are all deserving candidates. Each should see some playing time at the position during the season.
All three of these players have something in common; versatility. In fact, the entire infield is fairly versatile. For example, Ryan Schimpf has played, in parts of eight seasons, 410 games at second, 187 games at third, 117 games in the outfield, and seven games at first base. Spangenberg can play second, third, and the outfield and Asuaje can play three out of the four infield spots.
I have a theory involving versatility that will really surprise some avid Padres fans. If I were manager Andy Green, I would experiment in spring training with a possible utility infielder. This utility man would be none other than Yangervis Solarte.
Yes, I know he is the team’s most consistent hitter, but hear me out.
The 29-year-old has spent parts of 11 seasons at six different positions– 476 games at third, 458 games at second, 218 games in the outfield, 41 games at shortstop, and 31 games at first base. Solarte has been the primary third baseman for two years, but now that the Padres have an abundance of infielders, that might change.
Some would say that Solarte lacks the defensive capability to be a utility infielder, but statistically, he is average as a fielder. As a matter of fact, out of the three main positions he can play, third base is where he has the worst fielding percentage.
In this theory, Yangervis Solarte would still play everyday, just at a different position each day.
Having Solarte jump from position to position could possibly hurt his bat since he would lose a sense of consistency. Sometimes a player wants to know what position he is going to play and what position in the lineup he is going to bat. This is something for Andy Green to consider when making this decision.
Using Solarte as an everyday utility infielder could also give Schimpf, Spangernberg, and Asuaje the opportunity to play semi-regularly. While Solarte is playing, for example, shortstop, Schimpf would play third and Spangenberg/Asuaje would fill in at second. Solarte could also play first, giving Wil Myers a night off or allowing him to play a corner outfield spot for the night. The possibilities are endless.
I asked Carlos Asuaje via Twitter if he would be comfortable playing multiple positions. His response was “Yeah, I’m still pretty comfortable playing a lot of different positions, but I’m playing second now, and I like it. So I’m mostly comfortable with second.”
The Padres have a lot of options, and this theory is just one of many to consider. Andy Green is no stranger to experimenting with in-game strategies. He is in the process of converting Christian Bethancourt into a catcher/outfielder/pitcher, but that is for a different article. Coach Green is also a known “shift enthusiast”. All I am saying is that the Padres have a ton of talent and versatility. Don’t put it past Mr. Green to give more players a chance to play. Come March we will see what Andy Green will do and what the future holds for the San Diego Padres.