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Pirela savors 2nd-deck homer off Wood

Padres outfielder had nasty exchange with LA lefty in June
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- As Jose Pirela watched the ball sail into Petco Park's Estrella Jalisco Landing, his left arm hung in the air.

He savored the moment Sunday after crushing Alex Wood's fastball, for his 10th home run, in the Padres' 6-4 victory over the Dodgers. As Pirela trotted toward first base, his right arm rised to match his left. For Pirela, whose nickname "Aguila Negra" translates to "Black Eagle," he looked the part as he completed the first leg of his revenge tour around the bases.

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SAN DIEGO -- As Jose Pirela watched the ball sail into Petco Park's Estrella Jalisco Landing, his left arm hung in the air.

He savored the moment Sunday after crushing Alex Wood's fastball, for his 10th home run, in the Padres' 6-4 victory over the Dodgers. As Pirela trotted toward first base, his right arm rised to match his left. For Pirela, whose nickname "Aguila Negra" translates to "Black Eagle," he looked the part as he completed the first leg of his revenge tour around the bases.

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Pirela's motives derived from a June 30 incident where Wood accused Pirela, who was at second base, of stealing signs and threatened to drill him as a result. The spat resulted in a post-inning fracas that led to the ejections of both managers.

At 405 feet per Statcast™ on Sunday, it wasn't Pirela's farthest home run. It wasn't the hardest he's hit. But he did not hesitate to say there were extra motivations behind it.

"Of course," Pirela said through a team interpreter. "There definitely were."

Padres manager Andy Green saw other incentives for Pirela's reaction.

"Any time you hit a ball in the second deck, there's some sweet satisfaction to it," Green said.

Pirela reached in each of his other three plate appearances, as well. He walked against Wood in the first and aggressively moved to third on Wil Myers' single. Pirela then scored on Wood's wild pitch, celebratorily sliding in at the left-hander's feet.

Video: LAD@SD: Pirela breaks for the plate on a wild pitch

Pirela singled in the third and finished 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. Entrenched as the Padres' No. 3 hitter, Pirela is batting .294 in his longest stretch of Major League playing time.

"I think he fires up all of the players, even the bench," said Jhoulys Chacin, San Diego's starter Sunday and Pirela's Venezuela countryman. "He just shows up every day and wants to be on the field. You see when he hit the homer how excited he gets. It's really nice to see a guy play that way. That's why he's playing really well this year."

Tweet from @Padres: That's some Aguila Negra power, right there! 🦅🎞 https://t.co/CP6FYmhgNk pic.twitter.com/tD1F2Rc7oD

The former Yankees farmhand has played in more big league games in 2017 than in the past three seasons combined. His defense in left field has improved as he's spent more time there. Pirela's celebration Sunday exemplified the energy he's brought to the Padres since his promotion from Triple-A El Paso on June 6.

Once seen as part of the Padres' depth, he potentially has played himself into their future.

"He's done everything he's been asked to," Green said. "We love the quality of at-bats he gives us. … He's brought consistent energy, runs the bases the way you want, defends the field the way you want, swings the bat the way you want. I don't know what else he'd have to do to solidify himself into our future plans."

Video: LAD@SD: Pirela makes a running catch to rob Puig

Pirela took a moment to reflect on his efforts after Sunday's big swing, but he knows there's more to be done.

"I think of myself as someone who just needs to work every day on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively, in order to stay here," Pirela said. "I think what I've achieved up to this point and what I've done to be here hasn't been easy, so for me, it's just a matter of maintaining that and continuing to work going forward."

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Diego Padres, Jose Pirela