Manager Andy Green stated that, "it's going to be hard to play anybody in front of Jose Pirela based on what he did last year and based on what he's doing in spring training this year," according to Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Pirela is slashing .481/.559/.889 in 33 plate appearances this spring after posting a .288/.347/.490 triple slash in 344 plate appearances in the majors last year. This vote of confidence puts Pirela in the lead for the Padres' heated left field competition with Franchy Cordero, Hunter Renfroe and Travis Jankowski. The latter's speed and ability to play all three defensive positions makes Jankowski a favorite to win a backup job. If Pirela ultimately wins the starting job, Cordero would likely start the year in the minors with Renfroe sticking around to see starts against southpaws. The 28-year-old Pirela has been receiving starts at second base this spring, so a scenario remains possible where both he and a combination of the other competitors can see regular at-bats if Green opts to play him at the keystone and bypass Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje. This remains a very fluid situation, but the manager's statement boosts Pirela's stock for the time being.
Pirela went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI in Saturday's contest against the Indians.
Pirela served as the Padres' designated hitter in Saturday's exhibition, but he is primarily fighting for the club's left field role while also taking reps at second base. The super-utility man burst on the scene with a .288 batting average, 10 homers and four steals in 312 at-bats in 2017. He carried over his hot streak into spring training, slashing .458/.548/.750 in 30 plate appearances. While his numbers are superior to Hunter Renfroe's -- his primary competition in left field, -- the club may feel inclined to give its highly touted prospect the job to start the year. Second base is also an option for the versatile Pirela, but Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje are manager Andy Green's preferred options at keystone. As long as the 28-year-old continues to stroke the ball in this fashion, he will make it hard for Green to keep his bat out of the Padres' lineup, even if it is in a less than fantasy friendly super-utility role.
Pirela is playing second base in practice Friday, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports.
Pirela has 34 career starts at second, though he started just four times there last year compared to 64 times in left field. With the Eric Hosmer signing bumping Wil Myers to the outfield, however, San Diego's outfield has become considerably more cramped. Pirela will compete for time in an outfield corner with Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson, and Franchy Cordero. He'll also be competing with Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje at second base, but his flexibility should allow him to get a fair number of plate appearances at various spots around the diamond.
Pirela will likely be forced to compete for the primary starting gig in left field after the Padres agreed to an eight-year contract with free agent Eric Hosmer on Saturday, Jeff Sanders of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Heading into the start of spring training, Pirela looked like the favorite to break camp as the Padres' everyday left fielder, but the blockbuster signing of Hosmer now puts Pirela's job security into question. With Hosmer settling in at first base, Wil Myers is set for a full-time role at one of the corner-outfield spots, leaving Pirela to vie with Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero and Alex Dickerson (back) at the opposite spot. Pirela's ability to shift over to second base as well as his strong marks last season against both right- and left-handed pitching could help make his playing time more stable than his competitors, but the 28-year-old still may need a productive spring in order to enter the season with a prominent role.
Pirela hit .288/.347/.490 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 83 games for San Diego last year, and it appears as though he's the heavy favorite to grab the corner outfield spot in 2018. It seems unlikely that Pirela would spend any time at second base with Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje and Freddy Galvis all capable to handle the position, but it will give the 28-year-old a little more experience if he's thrust into the role.
|10/1/2017 vs San Francisco|
|vs San Francisco||38||11||1||.325||.474||.289|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
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|More Batting Stats|
|Minor League Batting Stats|
|2017||AAA-El Paso Chihuahuas||48||181||37||60||10||3||13||42||15||26||8||3||.387||.635||.331|