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Renfroe adjusting to reduced role

Limited to pinch-hit duty in first 2 games, OF to start Saturday
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- For as long as he's played baseball, Hunter Renfroe has been an everyday player.

He still views himself as exactly that -- even though his name didn't grace the Padres' starting lineup in the first two games of the season. He simply understands that his everyday playing time might be limited to one pivotal at-bat late in a game.

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SAN DIEGO -- For as long as he's played baseball, Hunter Renfroe has been an everyday player.

He still views himself as exactly that -- even though his name didn't grace the Padres' starting lineup in the first two games of the season. He simply understands that his everyday playing time might be limited to one pivotal at-bat late in a game.

View Full Game Coverage

The righty-hitting Renfroe is slated to receive his first start of the season on Saturday against Brewers left-hander Brent Suter. He could see quite a bit of playing time over the next week, with two Rockies lefties lined up to pitch at Petco Park.

More often than not, however, Renfroe is expected to serve in a pinch-hitting capacity. Eric Hosmer's presence at first base prompted Wil Myers' shift to right field, while Jose Pirela will continue to get the bulk of the playing time in left.

That leaves Renfroe destined for spot starts against lefties (where Pirela could slide to second base to replace Carlos Asuaje). Renfroe is still learning the nuances of pinch-hitting, having done so just three times in his rookie season and striking out in all three.

Video: SD@LAD: Renfroe belts home run to center field

"You do the best you can to learn what's the best way for you to prepare," said Renfroe, who hit 26 homers last year in his first full season. "It's obviously just the second day of me doing this. You've got to learn, talk to [hitting coach Matt] Stairs, figure out what works best. ... It's a type of thing where you've got to learn and grow into it."

The Stairs connection is a particularly important one in the eyes of manager Andy Green. Stairs spent the bulk of his two decades in the Majors in a similar capacity -- starting based on matchups and serving as his club's primary pinch-hitter otherwise.

"My challenge to Matt was to give him everything you've got when it comes to pinch-hitting," Green said. "Talk to him constantly about it, because you were as good as they came."

Renfroe's first plate appearance of the season came as a pinch-hitter against Brewers left-hander Josh Hader. On paper, it was the ideal matchup. Renfroe torched lefty pitching last season, finishing sixth in the Majors in OPS. But Hader struck him out on three pitches. A day later, Renfroe entered in the same capacity against Milwaukee. He worked a four pitch walk against righty Oliver Drake. 

"Pinch-hitting is a new thing for him," Green said. "It's going to take him a little bit of time to acclimate."

Once a top prospect, Renfroe certainly isn't locked into his platoon role. He'll face his share of righties, too. The Padres would love for him to prove himself and eventually factor into their future everyday lineup.

For now, they're content to use him a bit more sparingly, all while asking him to grow as a hitter.

"If we thought we were stunting his development with a part-time role, a bench role, he wouldn't be out on this field right now," Green said. "We also want to get to the point where we … stop thinking about, 'Ah, man, he might develop three percent faster if you let him play in Triple-A every single day.

"The reality is we think the at-bats he gets here and the opportunity he gets here is going to be more impactful for his career than at-bats he'd get in Triple-A."

Bonus pools finalized
The Padres will pick seventh in this June's Draft, and they have the eighth largest bonus pool available to sign their selections -- a total of $9.65 million. Despite finishing ahead of San Diego, both the Royals and Rays will have larger pool allotments as compensation for the free agents they lost.

Meanwhile, on the international market, San Diego has $5,504,500 for the signing period beginning July 2. But because the Padres vastly exceeded their spending limit in 2016-17, they're ineligible to sign any player for more than $300,000. (Per the new CBA, international bonus money is now hard capped, and teams can't exceed their allotment.)

MLB officially informed teams of its bonus pool money earlier this week.

Lopez headed to El Paso
The Padres optioned catcher Raffy Lopez to Triple-A El Paso on Friday, clearing space for Friday starter Joey Lucchesi. Lopez, the club's No. 3 catcher behind A.J. Ellis and Austin Hedges, entered Thursday's game as a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning and was intentionally walked.

"We'll see definitely see Raffy again," said Green. "It doesn't mean we have to wait for an injury to see Raffy again, either. The circumstances could dictate that he comes back at any point in time. We really like his left-handed bat."

To make room for Lucchesi on the 40-man roster, righty Colin Rea (right lat strain) was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

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

San Diego Padres, Hunter Renfroe