SAN DIEGO -- Kirby Yates is not an All-Star, but the alternative isn't so bad.The Padres' setup man was a serious candidate to be named to the National League squad when rosters were announced on Sunday. He missed out, with closer Brad Hand earning a nod as San Diego's lone
SAN DIEGO -- Kirby Yates is not an All-Star, but the alternative isn't so bad.
The Padres' setup man was a serious candidate to be named to the National League squad when rosters were announced on Sunday. He missed out, with closer Brad Hand earning a nod as San Diego's lone representative.
Yates would've loved to be in Washington, D.C., for the Midsummer Classic next Tuesday. But last week his wife gave birth to their second child, a boy named Kove, and Yates is content to spend time being a dad.
"I get to spend three days my family -- my newborn, my daughter, my wife and my dog," Yates said with a smile. "It's not the worst thing that's ever happened to me."
Still, there was an obvious case for Yates, who has become one of the NL's top setup men. Hand even acknowledged that he felt Yates should've gotten the nod. Yates owns a 1.53 ERA and has allowed just 22 hits in 35 1/3 innings while striking out 44.
"You never know how many opportunities you're going to get to make it," Yates said. "Obviously, this is the best I've ever been in the first half, so the opportunity is there. But there's a lot of guys in the same situation -- some guys who are more deserving than I am. If you put that into perspective, it was a longshot for me to make it. ... And Brad is more deserving than anyone in the league."
Yates' story is similar to that of Hand. Both were April waiver claims, Hand in 2016 and Yates a year later. Both reinvented themselves in San Diego with the help of a new pitch -- Hand's slider and Yates' splitter.
But right now, the general public seems acutely aware of Hand's ability. Yates, on the other hand, is still an unknown commodity.
"He's opening some eyes across the league," said Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley. "I'm sure there's other guys that are deserving. But he's been as good as anyone."
Balsley noted three reasons for Yates' success: an elite splitter, an elite fastball and an elite understanding for when to throw each. That's largely a product of the way Yates devours information and scouting reports, Balsley said.
As for Yates, he's quick to point out that his solid first half -- whether All-Star caliber or not -- isn't cause for celebration.
"Any time you have a sustained amount of success and put together a run where you're pitching pretty well is great," Yates said. "But the ultimate goal is to have these kind of numbers when you cross the finish line."
Lockett optioned after preserving 'pen
Right-hander Walker Lockett pitched in one game before he was optioned to Triple-A El Paso -- and he was only at Petco Park for half of it.
Lockett's flight from El Paso was re-routed to Las Vegas on Monday. He didn't land in San Diego until 8:15 p.m. PT. By then, the Padres and Dodgers were already in the fourth inning. Lockett arrived at the park, suited up and pitched the final two frames of an 8-2 defeat. In the process, he helped save a Padres bullpen that was reeling from a 16-inning victory in Arizona on Sunday.
"In that clubhouse, he gained a ton of respect from just hopping off a plane and pitching and preserving a lot of guys' arms," manager Andy Green said.
With Lockett headed to El Paso, the Padres recalled outfielder Franmil Reyes. In his first stint with the club this season, the 23-year-old rookie hit .228/.260/.457.
Reyes' arrival is an immediate fix that replenishes the Padres' bench. (Cory Spangenberg was optioned to clear space for Lockett, and the Padres played with three bench pieces on Monday night.) But there's little playing time available for Reyes, with William Myers, Manuel Margot, Travis Jankowski and Hunter Renfroe already sharing time in the outfield.
The Padres want Reyes getting regular at-bats. He's not missing out on any this week during the Triple-A All-Star break. But his time in the Majors could be limited.
"Four guys, it works really well," Green said of his outfield rotation. "Five guys, the pie gets sliced really thin. We like him a lot. We definitely don't want to see him sitting on the bench for the remainder of the baseball season. But he could play himself into more opportunity."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.