SAN DIEGO -- Since his callup on Tuesday, Jose Pirela has done precisely what he's done his entire life. He hit in the Minor Leagues. He hit in the Venezuelan Winter League. Now, he's hitting in the Major Leagues, too.Pirela racked up three more hits in the Padres' 12-6 loss
SAN DIEGO -- Since his callup on Tuesday, Jose Pirela has done precisely what he's done his entire life. He hit in the Minor Leagues. He hit in the Venezuelan Winter League. Now, he's hitting in the Major Leagues, too.
Pirela racked up three more hits in the Padres' 12-6 loss to the Royals on Saturday, including a leadoff homer and a double. He knocked in three runs and scored two more, providing nearly all of the San Diego offense.
All this for a player who was removed from the Padres' roster in December after an injury-riddled 2016 campaign. Pirela, 27, signed a Minor League deal with the club during the offseason, and he's making the most of it.
"It's a part of baseball no one wants to go through, with the injuries," said Pirela, who missed the second half last year, because of a lingering Achilles issue. "Last year was an unfortunate year with the injuries I sustained, but I kept battling, kept working hard, and I'm happy to be back, overcoming that."
Pirela hasn't been gifted anything cheap either. He has put 14 balls in play since his callup on Tuesday -- with an average exit velocity of 96.9 mph. He's 9-for-18 with three walks and four extra-base hits.
"In his history, he's a guy who's always hit," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You ask anybody from Venezuela about him, from Winter Ball, he's almost a legend down there. He hits and hits and hits."
The Padres acquired Pirela in November 2015, less than a month after Green was hired as skipper. Shortly thereafter, Green received a text from then D-backs outfielder Ender Inciarte, who had played with Pirela in Venezuela. The message: "He can flat-out hit," Green recalled.
And yet, in parts of four seasons at the big league level, Pirela hasn't quite put it all together at the plate. He went 6-for-39 with the Padres last season, spending most of his time with Triple-A El Paso.
"He got into the year last year with us and was really aggressive to the front side, body weight out in front of his front knee, unable to stay back," Green said. "... He had a hard time finding it, new team, new organization all together. He's showed up this year in a much more balanced position. He's still aggressive, but his body's balanced, and he fires through really aggressively with his lower half."
Pirela is going to continue to receive playing time, primarily in left field and at second base. On Saturday, he moved from left to first when William Myers was a late scratch because of an illness.
Pirela has never been known for his defense, and he immediately committed an error on a flip to starter Miguel Diaz, a play that would have ended the inning.
Diaz escaped that jam, and Pirela atoned rather quickly. In the bottom of the inning, he crushed an Ian Kennedy fastball off the facing of the batters eye in center field. To celebrate his first home run for the Padres, Pirela pumped his fist as he rounded second base. And he wasn't done either, tacking on a two-run double in the fifth and a single in the seventh.
"He's looked outstanding," Green said. "He was always going to hit. It's starting to come back for him, and it's exciting to see."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.