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Spangenberg seizing opportunity at third

Versatile infielder hits two homers against Royals
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Cory Spangenberg has needed to wait for his moment throughout 2017. Now, that it's here, he's taking advantage.

Spangenberg hit two solo home runs in the Padres' 8-3 loss to the Royals on Sunday. The performance capped a 7-for-12 showing in the series, the first since San Diego demoted home run leader Ryan Schimpf and opened the third base job for Spangenberg.

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SAN DIEGO -- Cory Spangenberg has needed to wait for his moment throughout 2017. Now, that it's here, he's taking advantage.

Spangenberg hit two solo home runs in the Padres' 8-3 loss to the Royals on Sunday. The performance capped a 7-for-12 showing in the series, the first since San Diego demoted home run leader Ryan Schimpf and opened the third base job for Spangenberg.

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"When you're hot, you're hot," Spangenberg said. "I'm trying to be loose, trying to [take] what they [give] me and try not to do too much with it."

With the Padres trailing 5-0 in the fourth, Spangenberg sent a Jake Junis sinker to center for his second home run of the year. He echoed the feat on a fastball in the seventh, sending the ball a projected 432 feet, according to Statcast™.

Not only was it Spangenberg's longest home run in the Statcast™ era, but he is the only Padre besides sluggers Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe to hit a homer of that distance in 2017. Spangenberg has his average up to .271, the result of effort he's put into improving his discipline, Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter said.

"A lot of guys in BP [batting practice] just hit, work on their swings, but they're not actually focused on the actual discipline, getting a better pitch," Zinter said. "… He's put himself in better counts, he's seeing the ball better. He's working on two things: His swing, he's always working on. Now, he's working on making better decisions, too."

After missing most of 2016 with a torn left quad, Spangenberg began the year in the Minor Leagues, losing out to Schimpf for a starting job. After his late-April callup, he's played second, third and left, displaying versatility to get on the field.

With both Spangenberg and Schimpf being left-handed hitters, Padres manager Andy Green often opted for Spangenberg against lefty pitchers, a role in which he did not complain. He's returned to the Majors motivated after being sent down, Green said.

"He's competitive," Green said. "He believes in himself, and rightfully so, he's a good baseball player. He does some really good things. I think he handled it well. I think he handled it with a chip on his shoulder. He wasn't happy about getting sent down. I don't think anybody should be happy about getting sent down. It should light a fire.

"That's what you hope. He went down there, swung the bat very well. He came up and shared time. Now he's finally getting an opportunity to run with the job, and he's starting to drive the baseball a little bit more. "... We believe long term in Ryan Schimpf, as well. We love his power, love his walks. But this affords Spangy a chance to, hey, go play pretty consistently. He's running with it."

Spangenberg said splitting time with Schimpf didn't affect the way he got ready for each game.

"When you come to the field, you're prepared to play every day, whether you're starting or on the bench," he said. "That's what I've been doing this year."

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

San Diego Padres, Cory Spangenberg