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Hosmer, Jankowski forming dynamic duo

Renfroe rehabbing with eyes on Padres' crowded outfield
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PITTSBURGH -- The Padres spent the first month of the season looking for a leadoff hitter who could consistently reach base ahead of Eric Hosmer.

Travis Jankowski has become that leadoff man -- and then some.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Padres spent the first month of the season looking for a leadoff hitter who could consistently reach base ahead of Eric Hosmer.

Travis Jankowski has become that leadoff man -- and then some.

View Full Game Coverage

Since he was recalled on April 29, Jankowski's .458 on-base percentage is second in the National League, behind only Odubel Herrera. His .480 OBP in the leadoff spot is the best in the Majors among players with at least 10 plate appearances there.

"It sets me up with a lot of opportunities," Hosmer said. "When he's on base, teams are aware that he can run. It might put more fastballs in play for me. They're hesitant about throwing that breaking ball, down, because with his speed, he'll be on second base."

Hosmer feels Jankowski's presence has helped him at the plate. The reverse also holds true.

"Being a younger guy -- not established in the big leagues to a fraction of what Hosmer is -- I think they're giving me good pitches to hit," Jankowski said. "They're keeping it around the zone for the most part. Maybe the pitcher gets ahead of himself, starts thinking, 'OK, I've got Hosmer coming up next, let's just get this guy out quick,' and I think that's when they make mistakes."

Jankowski has capitalized on those mistakes, and he's been setting the table nicely for Hosmer. He's been on base for each of Hosmer's last three home runs, and he's scored five of his 10 runs with Hosmer at the plate. In Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates, Jankowski worked a one-out walk in the fifth and scored on Hosmer's two-run double.

Video: SD@PIT: Hosmer laces a 2-run double to right-center

It's no coincidence Hosmer has already tripled his April RBI total in May. Take a look at the Padres' contributions from the leadoff spot in March and April, compared with the current month:

March/April: .167/.234/.349
May: .310/.403/.449

For all his elite speed, Jankowski has only swiped four bags in his 24 trips to first base this season, and he says he's prone to hold his ground at first -- especially with two outs.

"He gets that whole right side open with the first baseman holding me on, and I think that's a great 1-2 duo," Jankowski said. "The biggest thing for me is getting on first base for him. He can put a ball in the gap, and I'm scoring from first, or he can put one in the seats, and I can jog around the bases.

"I'm always in scoring position."

Outfield rotation in place
For the most part, Jankowski has played exclusively against right-handed pitching, and he's going to continue in that role.

In fact, the Padres' weekend series against the Pirates should give a good indication as to manager Andy Green's plans with his outfield.

Jankowski, Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes are all fighting for playing time. Green said he expects all four to start three times during this weekend's four-game set, with one day out of the lineup apiece. Expect Green to continue to rotate his outfielders relatively evenly, at least until Hunter Renfroe returns -- and perhaps even after that.

Renfroe began his rehab stint with Triple-A El Paso on Thursday, playing right field and going 1-for-5 with a double.

"My expectation is, how he swings it, and what happens here at the big league level will make our judgement on how long that rehab is," Green said.

In other words, Renfroe has essentially joined the competition for playing time in the Padres' crowded outfield. When he's earned his playing time in the Minors, he'll be activated.

Injury updates
Joey Lucchesi will resume throwing Friday, as he rehabs from a hip strain that forced him to the disabled list after his start Monday. The Padres remain optimistic the rookie left-hander will return when his DL stint is up -- or shortly thereafter.

• Catcher Austin Hedges received five at-bats in extended spring camp at the team's complex in Peoria, Ariz. He has not yet resumed throwing after going on the DL with right elbow tendinitis.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer, Travis Jankowski