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Franchy's absence proves tough to fill for Friars

@AJCassavell
April 19, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Franchy Cordero's absence is growing more conspicuous by the day. It's never been more glaring than during the 24-hour stretch from Thursday evening into Friday. In a tight game against Cincinnati on Thursday night, the Padres sent four straight struggling righty hitters to the plate against two

SAN DIEGO -- Franchy Cordero's absence is growing more conspicuous by the day. It's never been more glaring than during the 24-hour stretch from Thursday evening into Friday.

In a tight game against Cincinnati on Thursday night, the Padres sent four straight struggling righty hitters to the plate against two tough Reds right-handers. All four made outs -- including Manuel Margot, Luis Urias and Ian Kinsler via strikeout.

Then, on Friday afternoon, Margot was placed on the paternity list, where he's expected to spend at least two days. Jose Pirela was called up in Margot's absence. But that left the Padres without a true center fielder on the roster and only one outfielder capable of handling the position -- Wil Myers.

Those two situations scream for Cordero -- as a lefty pinch-hitter on Thursday and as full-time center fielder this weekend. Cordero landed on the disabled list earlier this month with a right elbow sprain.

"He was one of very few left-handed bats we had," manager Andy Green said. "There's moments in time where it makes a ton of sense to have left-handed bats out there, and we haven't really had the chance to do that."

Entering play Friday, San Diego owned a .692 OPS against right-handers and a .788 mark against lefties. Cordero's career splits are basically the reverse -- .782 vs. righties and .592 vs. lefties. The Padres dearly miss his presence.

"It's a left-handed bat," Green said. "We're short on left-handed bats. That's where he was really contributing early on in that outfield mix. We have more than enough to score more runs than we are. It's not just Franchy being out. There's a next-man-up mentality. But we were liking what he was bringing to the mix for sure."

As Green noted, lamenting Cordero's absence doesn't accomplish much. The Padres need a solution. There's still no timetable for Cordero's return. An MRI earlier this month revealed a stress reaction in his elbow, and his stint on the IL might be a prolonged one.

Cordero will be re-evaluated regularly -- likely every two weeks. But until the stress reaction has healed, the 24-year-old slugger can't begin baseball activity. That’s almost certainly a month away at the earliest. Probably longer.

So what now? Well, there are lefty-hitting options in the system -- like Austin Allen, Josh Naylor and Esteban Quiroz (though Quiroz was recently placed on the 7-day injured list because of a mild hamstring strain).

For now, the Padres have chosen to make do with what they've got. Cordero's injury -- which was overshadowed when it happened because it coincided with Urias' callup -- has proven extremely difficult for the righty-heavy Padres to cope with.

Worth noting
• In 15 games for Triple-A El Paso, Pirela was hitting .383/.457/.700. He'd clearly earned his callup. Pirela can play second base and left field, but the Padres envision him as a bench bat more than anything else.

"He's swung the bat really well," Green said. "Jose's a guy that we love -- we love his energy, love the way he goes about his job, trust him a lot to come off the bench today."

• Padres second basemen are hitting .141 this year with a .226 OPS. On Friday, Ian Kinsler started, but Green essentially said it's an ongoing competition for time between Kinsler and Urias.

"We're looking for somebody to choose to run with it, choose to grab hold of the opportunity and give us a reason to be consistent with them," Green said. "We haven't really gotten to that point."

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