Padres' leadoff spot in flux with Tatis sidelined

Green says Margot, Urias, Garcia, Jankowski could be in mix

August 17th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- It had been nearly two months since Padres manager Andy Green needed to put any thought into who he penciled in at the top of his lineup.

Prior to Wednesday, had hit leadoff for San Diego in 48 straight games dating to June 16. With Tatis expected to miss the rest of the season, Green is back to searching for a catalyst atop the order.

"It's nice to have one of the best baseball players in the game at the top of your order," Green said. "Any batting order would love that. But yeah, it was one less decision you make every single day coming to the ballpark."

Tatis was certainly not your average leadoff hitter. He hit .323 out of that spot, posting a .593 slugging percentage and .979 OPS, both of which led all leadoff batters across the Majors.

As for the other leadoff men San Diego has called upon this season, they have a combined line of .217/.283/.339. Their .622 OPS is more than 350 points lower than the one Tatis put up in that spot.

hit first in Tatis' absence on Wednesday, while got the nod in Friday's 8-4 loss. Margot was back in that spot on Saturday for the eighth time this season.

He hit just .183 with a .210 on-base percentage in 35 starts at leadoff last season. Fifty of Margot's previous 72 starts in 2019 had come in the Nos. 7-9 spots in the order.

"I probably was resistant to put Manny up there yesterday just because of past history and how well he's done being left alone at the bottom part of the order," Green said. "But we need more out of him right now."

The Padres skipper also mentioned and as likely leadoff candidates when they are in the lineup. Garcia has started atop the order 25 times this year, second most on the team behind Tatis (63). The only other player with even 10 leadoff appearances is (20), who was also shut down for the season on Friday due to a herniated disk in his neck.

"[Garcia and Jankowski] make obvious sense," Green said. "In their absence, it's a little bit of a quest to find that person right now."

France ready for chance
While the Padres search for a candidate to replace Tatis atop the lineup, they are hoping that infield prospect can fill the void in the infield.

France is expected to get an extended look at second base down the stretch, with Urias sliding over to shortstop and Manny Machado staying put at third base. Though Machado filled in at short during Tatis' month-long absence this season, that came at a time when Urias was at Triple-A El Paso.

"We genuinely like Luis Urias at shortstop," Green said. "I think as people watch him play short, they're going to see he can really play it."

That opened up the option to put France at second base, a position he had not played professionally prior to this season. He made 15 starts at second over the past few weeks with El Paso before making his big league debut at the position on Friday.

France was back at second on Saturday, though he could be used occasionally at his natural position to spell Machado at third. Garcia, meanwhile, will "play a little bit of everything" with Tatis and Kinsler out.

"We want to keep [Garcia] in the mix, because he's done a tremendous job for us filling voids all season long," Green said. "But we'll get Ty a consistent opportunity here, and it'll be predominantly at second base for the time being."

With Machado in the first year of his 10-year, $300 million deal, France -- who was hitting .399 with 27 homers in the Minors this year -- welcomes the challenge of learning a new position.

"It's a good feeling. It means they want me," France said. "My bat has been my main tool my whole career. The more positions I can learn, the better."