SAN DIEGO -- Joey Lucchesi's hot start has been put on hold temporarily.The Padres' standout rookie left-hander was placed on the disabled list Tuesday morning as he battles a right hip strain. Second baseman Carlos Asuaje was recalled from Triple-A El Paso in his place.Lucchesi exited his start Monday night
SAN DIEGO -- Joey Lucchesi's hot start has been put on hold temporarily.
The Padres' standout rookie left-hander was placed on the disabled list Tuesday morning as he battles a right hip strain. Second baseman Carlos Asuaje was recalled from Triple-A El Paso in his place.
Lucchesi exited his start Monday night after just 71 pitches. It's possible he'll only miss one outing. San Diego has two days off in the next eight, and the club downplayed the extent of the injury on Monday, while noting that the rookie Lucchesi will be treated with caution.
"When you're exercising caution with a young starter, you make these types of choices," said Padres manager Andy Green. "This type of choice puts us in a position to protect him for the remainder of the season. If it needs more time, then he'll miss a couple starts, but hopefully it's one start and he's right back out there."
Lucchesi, called up on the second day of the season, owns a 3.23 ERA in nine starts, striking out more than one batter per inning. He's thrust himself into the conversation for the best rookie starter in the National League.
Still, San Diego plans to exercise caution with Lucchesi for the remainder of the season. He pitched 139 innings last year, and the club will find creative ways to limit him throughout the season without using a hard innings cap.
With Wednesday's off-day, the Padres won't need a starting pitcher until Monday. If the weather turns ugly during their four-game series in Pittsburgh, it's possible they won't need another starting pitcher at all.
In the meantime, Lucchesi will head to the team's complex in Peoria, Ariz., to begin rehab.
New role for Asuaje?
Asuaje's bag was halfway packed when he got a phone call from Green on Monday night. He had been optioned to Triple-A El Paso earlier that day and had a flight booked for El Paso on Tuesday.
Stop packing, Green said. Asuaje was being recalled to take Lucchesi's place on the roster. (Typically, such a quick recall isn't permitted, but in this case, it was because of Lucchesi's injury.)
Asuaje is back with the Padres, but he appears destined for a new role. He opened the season as the club's starting second baseman, but he struggled, hitting .198/.263/.292. Jose Pirela has since claimed that job.
Now, Asuaje is expected to serve in something of a utility role. He could play some third base, and San Diego might eventually look to expand his skill set so he can serve as a backup shortstop and a backup outfielder.
"It's probably best for my career if I can handle myself at shortstop, handle myself at third, play some outfield" Asuaje said. "There are a lot of guys like me that can have productive at-bats, and they're versatile in the field, and that keeps them in the big leagues for quite a bit."
Renfroe, Hedges set for rehab
Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges likely won't cross paths on the baseball fields at the Padres' spring complex in Peoria this week.
Renfroe, who is on the mend from right elbow inflammation, is expected to conclude his stint in extended spring camp on Tuesday before heading to El Paso to begin a rehab stint.
Hedges, meanwhile, will play his first game there on Thursday, where he'll serve as the designated hitter and likely receive an at-bat every inning to better find his rhythm. Hedges has been out for two weeks with right elbow tendinitis.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.