SAN DIEGO -- The Padres optioned Hunter Renfroe to Triple-A El Paso on Saturday, in hopes that the slumping right fielder would get back on track in the Minors.Renfroe is second on the Padres with 20 home runs, but the 25-year-old hasn't gone deep since July 25 and is batting
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres optioned Hunter Renfroe to Triple-A El Paso on Saturday, in hopes that the slumping right fielder would get back on track in the Minors.
Renfroe is second on the Padres with 20 home runs, but the 25-year-old hasn't gone deep since July 25 and is batting .230. In August, Renfroe is hitting .220 with two extra-base hits and 19 strikeouts in 50 at-bats. Outfielder Jabari Blash was recalled in his place.
"Nothing's changed in our long-term belief in who Hunter can be on a Major League baseball field and what our expectation and hope is of him," manager Andy Green said. "We still think he's got every opportunity to lock down the right-field job for the future. We also think there's things to work on, and we want to see the needle move."
Green specifically mentioned getting on base as an area he wants to see Renfroe improve. After drawing 15 walks in May, Renfroe has walked only nine times since, striking out 67 times in that span.
The Padres also hope to see defensive improvement from Renfroe, who had been on San Diego's roster since Opening Day. Despite a powerful arm, Renfroe has had fits of inaccuracy. His nine errors lead National League right fielders.
"If you're going to have a winning culture here, you have to be willing at times to make tough decisions and send guys down that you like as human beings, that you value as teammates, that you think have a good future with your organization but at present aren't quite getting the job done," Green said.
Blash has hit .224 in two stints with San Diego this season, but he was clearly improved his second trip. He hit .298 with an .892 OPS, hitting two home runs in 16 games. The Padres considered sending down Renfroe instead of Blash at the end of July, Green said.
"Something Jabari has done throughout his career that's been hard for Hunter to do is he's walked," Green said. "He's taken free passes when it's been given to him, and he's also driven the ball out of the ballpark. For now, he's going to get a look and get an opportunity, and if he takes advantage of it, he'll continue to get more."
Green told Renfroe he would be sent down after Friday's 7-1 loss to the Nationals. Renfroe is five home runs shy of setting the Padres' rookie record.
Green pointed to Cory Spangenberg, Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje as members of the Padres' lineup who, despite having previous Major League experience, began the season in the Minors but then earned their way to San Diego.
The Padres want Renfroe to do the same, as Green provided no guarantee that he'll return when rosters expand in September.
"Our hope is he moves forward with his career and takes positive steps in the areas that have been identified," Green said. "When he does that, we fully expect him to be back here having a profound impact on baseball games for us."
Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.