Struggling Renfroe to rest chronic sore ankle
SAN DIEGO -- Hunter Renfroe's rough second half has taken another unfortunate turn.
The Padres right fielder is expected to miss time -- perhaps a week, perhaps longer -- as he battles a lingering right ankle injury. Renfroe aggravated his already sore ankle while swinging on Saturday, and he hasn't played since.
"The hope is this isn't something that lingers very long," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He's not been able to get resolution from it, so it just made sense to give him some time. However much time he needs is however much time he needs."
In 129 games this year, Renfroe is hitting .222/.290/.498 with a team-leading 31 homers. But his season is best defined by the highs of the first half and the lows of the second.
Renfroe batted .252/.308/.613 with 27 of those 31 home runs before the break. Coupled with his improved defense, that production made him one of the most valuable corner outfielders in baseball during the first half.
Since then, however, Renfroe is hitting just .169/.260/.291. He's battled some minor injuries, Green said, including a bruised right elbow and lingering ankle soreness.
Renfroe never publicly acknowledged either of those ailments. But Green was quick to note the impact they've likely had on his production.
“He's not going to lay blame at that,” Green said. “He's not going to say that's the reason why. He's felt confident he could go compete and help us win baseball games. He's never brought that up as an excuse. ... But there's no doubt it's impacted and affected not just his game performance, but his ability to get in there and really grind in the cage and find it.”
It's worth wondering just how much Renfroe’s struggles can be attributed to his health. During the first half, he’d established himself as a rock in the Padres’ future plans. At the Trade Deadline, the club chose to move Franmil Reyes, believing Renfroe was the righty-hitting corner-outfield slugger worth building around.
Then, Renfroe’s performance plummeted. If injuries played a part, the Padres need to know how big a part. The way they view Renfroe will affect their offseason pursuit of outfielders.
"It's just bothered him to the point where he's not capable of hitting, not capable of being himself," Green said. "He's played through more than probably anybody in baseball. It's fairly obvious the numbers and the production have suffered because of that."
Green added that the club is optimistic Renfroe will return by the end of the season and that the injury won’t linger into the offseason. In Renfroe's absence, the Padres have given lefties Josh Naylor and Nick Martini regular playing time in the corners.
On Tuesday evening, Martini made his first start against a lefty since joining the Padres. He entered play hitting .371 -- with 33 of his 36 plate appearances coming against right-handed pitching.
“We see him as a guy that has the potential to be in the lineup very very consistently against right-handed pitching,” Green said. “The left-handed thing is because Hunter’s down. It’s given us an opportunity to look at Nick in this situation. … This is an opportunity to show what you can do, then we have a better idea going forward.”
Richards' final step?
Garrett Richards’ long road back to a big league mound might be nearing its conclusion. On Tuesday night, the veteran right-hander worked four innings of two-run ball for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in the first game of the California League Championship Series.
Richards hasn't pitched this season as he works his way back from 2018 Tommy John surgery. The Padres signed him during the offseason with an eye on 2020. But they think there's a significant benefit to getting Richards back on the mound before the season ends. That could come as soon as next week.
"Yeah, there's definitely a chance," Green said before the game. "It's a chance we're excited about. We want to see him get through tonight. If he feels great, he's going to throw a 'pen. Then, if everything lines up the way we hope it does, we're encouraged about the possibility of seeing him."
Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Jacob Nix is slated for a rehab outing with Double-A Amarillo on Wednesday. Nix, who has been out since March with a UCL strain, could be nearing a return as well.
Kirby and Ashlee Yates fight epilepsy
Padres closer Kirby Yates and his wife, Ashlee, hosted Epilepsy Awareness Night at Petco Park on Tuesday night. A portion of every Epilepsy Awareness ticket benefited the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County.
Last year, Ashlee suffered a seizure and was later diagnosed with epilepsy. Once she came to grips with the diagnosis and the hurdles it entailed, she and Kirby decided to take action. They partnered with the Padres for Tuesday's event, and before the game, they met with fans who had purchased the designated ticket.
"The cool thing is hearing other people’s stories and how they deal with it, how they found out, how it happened," Kirby said. "It was new to me when my wife got diagnosed last year. I had no clue. I didn't know a whole lot about it. So I had to do my own research. I think that's just one of the reasons we're hoping to bring it forward.”