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Left field for Padres is 'wide open' situation

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the wake of Travis Jankowski's foot injury, the Padres have started three different players in left field in as many nights.

On Friday, it was Cory Spangenberg making his first start there since 2014. Jabari Blash and Allen Cordoba have also seen time in left. Of the three, Blash is the only primary outfielder, making him the favorite for playing time.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- In the wake of Travis Jankowski's foot injury, the Padres have started three different players in left field in as many nights.

On Friday, it was Cory Spangenberg making his first start there since 2014. Jabari Blash and Allen Cordoba have also seen time in left. Of the three, Blash is the only primary outfielder, making him the favorite for playing time.

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Spangenberg started Friday night largely as the result of Jeff Samardzija's numbers against left-handed hitters. For now, the position remains a platoon. Going forward, however, Padres manager Andy Green wouldn't mind shifting away from that.

"There are some guys, whenever they get hot, you just want to keep them in the lineup," Green said. "I want somebody to lay claim to a position on the baseball field. I don't feel like that's occurred in left field at this point in time yet. ... I'd say it's wide open right now."

Spangenberg has spent his entire professional career in the infield, shifting between second and third base.

But he doesn't mind trying something new. In fact, he's happy to add it to his resume, if it means more playing time.

"Look at Ben Zobrist," Spangenberg said, pointing to the Cubs' do-it-all man. "He's the guy everyone looks at for playing multiple positions. The more positions you play, the more flexible the manager is, and the more likely you'll be in the lineup. The more, the better."

Left field is also a relatively new position for Cordoba, a Rule 5 Draft pick, who played the infield exclusively in the Cardinals system before the Padres selected him in December.

Video: SD@ARI: Cordoba lays out for spectacular diving grab

It helps that the Padres starters typically keep the ball on the ground. Entering play Friday, the San Diego rotation boasted a 55 percent ground-ball rate, the highest such mark in the Majors.

"It definitely helps when you've got heavy sinkerballers," Green said. "When you've got limited experience in the outfield, that's a good time to get them out there."

It doesn't hurt that Manuel Margot is stationed in center, perhaps alleviating some of the pressure on the corner outfielders with his gap-to-gap quickness.

Spangenberg, who started the season at Triple-A, didn't get any reps in left with El Paso. But he's been taking fly balls there since Spring Training and has appeared in left three times this week in the late innings (without any fly balls hit his direction).

"Anywhere on the baseball field, if you're more athletic, the more successful you're going to be," he said. "You just try to turn off your brain a little bit and try to be athletic."

McGwire honored in St. Louis

Padres bench coach Mark McGwire will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame this summer. McGwire spent five seasons in St. Louis, where he racked up 220 of his 583 homers -- including 70 in 1998.

"I was speechless," McGwire said. "I still am speechless. The people I got to know back there during the years I played, the history of that franchise -- to be in a class with them, that group, to wear that red jacket, it just makes me speechless."

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

San Diego Padres, Jabari Blash, Allen Cordoba, Cory Spangenberg