Jose Pirela spent most of 2016 on the minor league DL due to plantar fasciitis, but he took a step back at Triple-A El Paso in the 35 games he was able to play, hitting just .248/.295/.387 in his first run in the Pacific Coast League. Much of his value to big league organizations comes with his defensive versatility, though last season at El Paso, he spent more time in the outfield than ever before despite seeing most of his time with the Padres at second base. With the expected return of Cory Spangenberg from injury and the emergence of Ryan Schimpf, Pirela figures to spend the bulk of 2017 in the minors after re-upping with the Padres on a minor league deal this offseason. A right-handed hitter, Pirela has a .301/.352/.428 line over four years at the Triple-A level, but he's posted a .568 OPS in 59 big league games with the Yankees and Padres since debuting in 2014. It's fair to wonder if he will ever hit enough against big league pitching to become more than a part-time player.
Pirela re-signed with the Padres on a minor league deal Tuesday, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports. The 27-year-old was initially non-tendered by San Diego, but given his major league experience and defensive utility, the Padres decided to bring him back. Pirela will likely head into 2017 with an organizational depth role.
The Padres declined to tender Pirela a contract Friday, making him a free agent, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pirela was one of six players cut loose by San Diego. The 27-year-old went 6-for-39 with two extra-base hits and a 1:9 BB:K in the majors last year and the results at Triple-A El Paso were less than stellar. He hasn't played shortstop over the past couple years and appears destined to continue on as a fringe major leaguer in 2017.
Pirela was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Saturday. Pirela was recalled from El Paso on May 8. He went 5-for-34 with just one extra base hit during his time with the big club. His exit will make room for Yangervis Solarte to return from the disabled-list.
Pirela is a late addition to the lineup in Friday's series opener against the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Padres originally locked in Christian Bethancourt in right field, which was surprising considering he had never started at any position other than catcher in his career. However, they have decided to switch to Pirela at the last minute. He batting.333 against southpaws on the season.
Updating a previous report, Pirela will ultimately get the starting nod at second base Sunday against the Brewers. Pirela had been originally scheduled to get the day off, but a last-minute scratch of Wil Myers led to a shift of the entire lineup. Brett Wallace moved from third to first to cover for Myers, while Adam Rosales moved from second to third, finally opening up the keystone for Pirela. It will be the 26-year-old's seventh straight start at second base.