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Pirela likely to see more time at second base

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Jose Pirela's playing time at second base has been sporadic this season. But with a crowded outfield and Carlos Asuaje slumping at the plate, Pirela appears to be headed back to his infield roots.

The Padres plan to use Pirela in a hybrid role between second and the outfield over the next few weeks. It's possible his playing time could skew toward second, as the Padres attempt to fit Wil Myers, Manuel Margot and a surging Franchy Cordero into the outfield.

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SAN DIEGO -- Jose Pirela's playing time at second base has been sporadic this season. But with a crowded outfield and Carlos Asuaje slumping at the plate, Pirela appears to be headed back to his infield roots.

The Padres plan to use Pirela in a hybrid role between second and the outfield over the next few weeks. It's possible his playing time could skew toward second, as the Padres attempt to fit Wil Myers, Manuel Margot and a surging Franchy Cordero into the outfield.

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"Either one is possible," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We'll be reading each game as it unfolds. His next couple weeks will probably determine how much he plays there [depending on] how well he plays defensively.

"We know Asuaje is the more polished second baseman defensively. But if Jose goes out there and holds that position down, it adds another dynamic to our offense that we could use."

Video: SF@SD: Pirela notches three hits, drives in three

Green's daily decision-making will largely be predicated on that night's pitchers -- for both sides. The righty-hitting Pirela will almost certainly find himself in the lineup against left-handers, as he was on Saturday night against the Mets' Jason Vargas.

But Pirela will play second base against right-handers as well. That could hinge upon the Padres' starting pitcher, with Asuaje likelier to start behind a ground-ball specialist like Clayton Richard.

When he's not playing second, Pirela will play left field, too, potentially spelling Cordero and Margot.

"It is something I enjoy," Pirela said of moving between positions. "You want to be in the lineup. If that's what's getting you in it, it's awesome."

Of course, Pirela is by no means a defensive standout at either spot. The metrics have him pegged as an average left fielder, though his routes on fly balls remain shaky. At second, he's been subpar.

Still, Pirela signed as a shortstop, and he broke into the Majors with the Yankees as a utility man. He knows what it takes to move around the diamond.

"It can be hard to work on multiple positions at the same time," Pirela said. "You don't want to burn out. If I'm killing myself before the game, maybe I only last full strength until August. I think you definitely have to manage the two."

In that regard, the Padres have tasked infielders coach Josh Johnson and outfielders coach Skip Schumaker with limiting Pirela's workload. Pirela noted that Schumaker's influence is particularly important, given that he filled a similar role during his 11-year career.

For now, Pirela's pregame workload is largely focused on second base.

"The more ground balls you get and the more games you play at second base, the more comfortable you're going to be," Pirela said.

The Padres need to find out whether he's comfortable enough to stick.

Villanueva getting up to speed
Third baseman Christian Villanueva got down the line slowly when he bounced into a fourth-inning double play Friday night. Then he settled for a single instead of stretching a double out of his sixth-inning line drive to left.

In his first game back from left-hamstring tightness, Villanueva clearly wasn't running at 100 percent. According to Green, that's not because he couldn't.

"He was under orders from me yesterday," Green said. "'Hey, if you bounce out and you know you're out, pull up.' This isn't the day to stretch a single into a double. Both of those things happened to happen yesterday.

"He's been one of our best hitters, if not our best hitter, and we didn't want him, on the first day back from a hamstring injury, blowing the hamstring out. From his standpoint, he's good to go, he's got no issues. We just wanted to be conservative."

Rehab for Renfroe
Right fielder Hunter Renfroe played catch for the second consecutive day as he continues his recovery from right elbow inflammation. Renfroe threw at 50-percent strength from up to 90 feet.

Renfroe is likely headed for a rehab assignment, the length of which is to be determined, Green said. The slugging outfielder remains at least a week away from that.

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

San Diego Padres, Jose Pirela