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Renfroe's future clouded by Hosmer's arrival

Padres outfielder focused on preparing for season as trade interest picks up
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hunter Renfroe arrived in camp last week seemingly entrenched as the Padres' right fielder. Coming off a roller-coaster rookie campaign, there was always plenty for him to prove in Year 2.

Except, suddenly, Renfroe finds himself squarely in a battle for his job with the pending arrival of Eric Hosmer. As Wil Myers moves to the outfield to clear room for Hosmer at first base, Renfroe and Jose Pirela will duel for playing time at the other corner spot. Franchy Cordero and Alex Dickerson are also in the mix.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hunter Renfroe arrived in camp last week seemingly entrenched as the Padres' right fielder. Coming off a roller-coaster rookie campaign, there was always plenty for him to prove in Year 2.

Except, suddenly, Renfroe finds himself squarely in a battle for his job with the pending arrival of Eric Hosmer. As Wil Myers moves to the outfield to clear room for Hosmer at first base, Renfroe and Jose Pirela will duel for playing time at the other corner spot. Franchy Cordero and Alex Dickerson are also in the mix.

Spring Training information

With a newly congested roster, the Hosmer signing also gives the Padres a bit of wiggle room for a potential trade. Already, Renfroe's name has surfaced among rumors. On Sunday, MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Renfroe had drawn newfound trade interest in the wake of the Hosmer news.

"We're all chess pieces in a huge game here -- that's the way you look at it," Renfroe said of the possibility he'd be dealt. "But it's always exciting just to be here ... getting ready to play baseball."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The Padres wouldn't part with Renfroe for cheap. The 26-year-old right fielder, once a highly touted prospect, has only spent one season in the big leagues. His results were a mixed bag.

Renfroe launched 26 home runs, a franchise record for a rookie, and a handful of them reached rarified territory in left field at Petco Park. He also tied for the National League lead with nine outfield assists.

But his on-base percentage dipped to .284, and his defense was otherwise shoddy. In August, Renfroe was sent to Triple-A El Paso, primarily to work on plate discipline and outfield fundamentals.

In short, Renfroe's rookie season featured some incredible high points -- most notably his three-homer game against Arizona upon his return to San Diego in September. But it left just as many unanswered questions.

"You take the good out of it," Renfroe said. "And you work on the bad."

Renfroe spent the offseason in his native Mississippi, and he's returned to camp with a slight tweak to his violent swing. The Padres grew concerned with the exaggerated hitch in his hands as he loaded. There's still some movement, but it's much simpler, he says.

Defensively, Renfroe could be on the verge of a position change. He spent the entirety of 2017 in right field, but it's not yet clear where Myers will move when the season begins. Manager Andy Green noted that Renfroe will take some reps in left field as Spring Training progresses.

"He's competing for an opportunity to play on an everyday basis," said Green. "We didn't need to have a move to cause that to happen. ... It's competition, and he's right there in the thick of that competition."

Should Renfroe switch positions, he noted it might take him some time to get acclimated to left field at Petco Park. He'll emphasize honing his footwork this spring, which he believes played the biggest role in his nine errors last season. He's also looking to significantly improve his first step on fly balls.

Although he finds himself in a battle for outfield playing time, Renfroe exudes something of a quiet confidence, not concerned with the logistics of what the roster crunch means for him.

"You can't look at it like that," Renfroe said. "You just go out there and do what you can, play your game and do what it takes to get ready for the season. I'll let the guys make decisions when it happens."

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

San Diego Padres, Hunter Renfroe