Kemp hits leadoff for first time since 2010
Padres right fielder goes 0-for-4 in loss to Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Padres used their seventh different leadoff hitter of 2015 on Wednesday, though this one rated as a slight surprise.
Interim manager Pat Murphy penciled right fielder Matt Kemp into the leadoff spot against the Giants, marking the first time Kemp has hit at the top of the order since 2010 with the Dodgers.
Kemp went 0-for-4 in the Padres' 6-0 loss. He struck out to start the game and then grounded out in his next three at-bats.
"I have no problem with [hitting leadoff]," Kemp said before the game. "You get to lead off the game and try to set the tone. That's exactly what I'm going to do; try to set the tone and not do too much too different, just try to get on base."
Kemp entered Wednesday's game hitting .243/.281/.349 with four home runs and 36 RBIs over 284 at-bats this season as the team's No. 3 or 4 hitter.
Murphy said he brought up the idea of having Kemp hit leadoff last week when he took over as interim manager. Since then, he and the coaches have kicked around the idea.
On Wednesday, they made it happen.
So what did Murphy see in Kemp to lead him to believe he'd be an ideal fit at the top of the order?
"We need to strike first," Murphy said. "We thought it was the right move to get him off where he was and get him in a spot he can help us win. Let's strike first, have that extra time [possibility of an extra at-bat]."
The Padres rank 28th in the Majors in on-base percentage by a leadoff hitter (.289) and 25th in batting average (.239).
Kemp is a .290/.342/.471 hitter with five home runs and 21 RBIs hitting leadoff in his career, with most of the work coming in 2008 with the Dodgers and then some in 2010.
"They asked if I wanted to do it and I said, 'I'll do it.' Sometimes change can be good, so we'll see how this goes," he said.
Kemp is hopeful a change to the lineup, albeit a small one, might get the offense going. This seemed to be a good day to make the move, as Kemp is a career .343 hitter against Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.
"I don't think it can hurt our lineup, it can only help it. If we can get going, get rolling … it's the time to pick it up," he said. "We have been at a level where I feel we've been stuck. Hopefully we can get over that little hump and take off.
"Hopefully shaking things up can do something for the team."
Previously this season, the Padres have used Abraham Almonte (three starts at leadoff), Wil Myers (33), Yangervis Solarte (10), Cory Spangenberg (nine), Melvin Upton Jr. (four) and Will Venable (14) at the top of the order.