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Healthy Cordero could force tough decisions

Green: Prospect's lefty bat would 'be very helpful right now'
MLB.com @AJCassavell

HOUSTON -- In mid-March, Franchy Cordero was on the fast track to the big leagues. Arguably the Padres' best hitter during Spring Training, Cordero found himself as a favorite for an outfield place on the Padres' Opening Day roster.

Instead, he'll open his season with Triple-A El Paso, the result of a groin injury he sustained 10 days before breaking camp in Peoria, Ariz.

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HOUSTON -- In mid-March, Franchy Cordero was on the fast track to the big leagues. Arguably the Padres' best hitter during Spring Training, Cordero found himself as a favorite for an outfield place on the Padres' Opening Day roster.

Instead, he'll open his season with Triple-A El Paso, the result of a groin injury he sustained 10 days before breaking camp in Peoria, Ariz.

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Cordero, the club's No. 10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, began a rehab stint on Friday night. The 23-year-old outfielder could be destined for a callup as soon as he proves himself healthy.

"We could use 1, his bat, 2, his athleticism, and 3, his left-handed stick," Padres manager Andy Green said. "We're a righty-dominant outfield and to have a left-handed bat you could throw in there against right-handed pitching, it'd be very helpful right now.

"He's a guy we thought was going to be a big part of this when spring started. He showed that through Spring Training. If he shows he's healthy, shows he's flying around the field, he's somebody I'd expect to see."

Cordero batted .343/.465/.714 while excelling defensively during an outstanding Spring Training. During his brief time in the Majors last season, however, Cordero was too often victimized by the strikeout, whiffing 44 times in 99 plate appearances.

Video: SD@KC: Cordero doubles up O'Hearn at the plate

When he did make contact, Cordero was a force. His 90-mph average exit velocity led the team. The hard contact and elite speed boosted Cordero to a .400 batting average on balls in play.

"When he puts the ball in play, he's going to get more hits than a lot of people because he hits the ball hard and he runs fast," Green said. "It's simple, actually."

The Padres could be faced with a decision when Cordero returns to full health. Wil Myers -- who is battling nerve irritation in his right arm -- could also return later this month, giving San Diego a very crowded outfield.

But if Cordero hits like he did this spring, the Padres might be forced to make room for him.

"He's toolsier than anybody here," Green said. "There's more in there -- more raw twitch, more explosion, more speed. It's impressive what's inside of him. It's a matter of the consistency."

Headley back in Houston in new role
Chase Headley's 2017 campaign ended at Minute Maid Park in the American League Championship Series. He batted .389 as the Yankees lost to the Astros in seven games.

Video: SD@ELP: Headley brings home Pirela with a groundout

"That's baseball at its best, two good teams at each other's throat going back-and-forth," Headley said. "I certainly wish it had gone the other way, but it was fun to be a part of, just a special series."

Headley's start to the 2018 campaign hasn't matched his October success. Following an offseason trade to San Diego, Headley is the only Padres position player without a hit this year (0-for-12) entering Friday's game. He's been limited to pinch-hit at-bats with fellow third basemen Cory Spangenberg and Christian Villanueva off to hot starts.

"I don't really know yet what this is going to lead to, if this is going to be the norm, who knows," Headley said. "You just do the best you can to prepare yourself, expecting to play every day. ... It's hard, especially for a guy that's used to playing every day. But I'll figure it out. I have no doubt."

Padres add catching depth
The Padres acquired Minor League catcher Brett Nicholas from Texas on Friday morning in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.

The lefty-hitting Nicholas batted .238/.262/.397 in 21 games for the Rangers last season. He'll back up Raffy Lopez in Triple-A.

"He's another left-handed bat with some pop," said Green. "He'll pair with Raffy there, and at some point in time, we might see Raffy here, so that just gives us some depth."

Lamet continues throwing
Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet continued his throwing program Friday, playing catch at about 60 feet. He's recovering from a flexor strain in his right elbow, which he sustained at the end of Spring Training.

The club hasn't divulged results of an MRI on Lamet's elbow. But his current progression lends itself toward optimism that he'll return in May, as was the team's initial hope.

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

San Diego Padres, Franchy Cordero