SAN DIEGO -- Four infielders for three spots? It's the perfect balance, in the eyes of San Diego skipper Andy Green.The Padres have fallen into a bit of a rhythm lately regarding their infield use. It's lining up precisely with the tendencies of their starting pitchers.In Luis Perdomo and Clayton
SAN DIEGO -- Four infielders for three spots? It's the perfect balance, in the eyes of San Diego skipper Andy Green.
The Padres have fallen into a bit of a rhythm lately regarding their infield use. It's lining up precisely with the tendencies of their starting pitchers.
In Luis Perdomo and Clayton Richard, the Padres have two of the game's premier sinkerballers -- among NL pitchers with at least 100 innings, they're first and second, respectively, in ground-ball rate. Dusty Coleman, meanwhile, is easily San Diego's best defensive shortstop. And since his July 24 callup, he's been in the starting lineup for all 10 starts made by either Perdomo or Richard.
"It's honestly not rocket science," Green said. "When you expect to get a whole bunch of ground balls in the shortstop area with Perdomo and Clayton Richard, you put the guy out there that defends shortstop really well."
For the other three-fifths of the rotation, the Padres are less inclined to value infield defense over offensive production. Yangervis Solarte has been serviceable enough at short, and his presence there allows for the Padres to keep the bats of Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje in their lineup.
In late July, Solarte returned from a left oblique strain, creating a bit of a logjam at second and third base. The Padres asked if he'd be interested in playing short.
He was very open to the idea. And since his return, he's played there frequently when Travis Wood and Dinelson Lamet are on the mound.
"When you feel like you might get away with more fly balls, strikeouts, low-contact rates, you go out there with your offensive lineup," said Green. "Then, if you have a lead after six innings, you find a way to unwind it, move guys around and get Dusty out there to defend the field."
When he doesn't start, Coleman has spent the past month entering games as a defensive replacement. Because Solarte can play second, third and short, Green generally subs Coleman for whichever of the three hitters has batted most recently.
With the season grinding into August's dog days, Coleman's presence has also given Solarte, Spangenberg and Asuaje a day off every week. And Coleman, for one, has thoroughly enjoyed his role as a platoon shortstop, starting exclusively behind sinkerballers.
"I've got to be ready from pitch one, because I'm going to be getting some action," Coleman said. "For me, more ground balls make me more comfortable, too. When you know you're going to be getting some action, you're mentally prepared the whole game and ready to go."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.