SAN DIEGO -- Fatherhood has been good to Manuel Margot.It's brought him hits in five straight games, back-to-back contests with a home run and, on Thursday night, a shot at the cycle in the Padres' 7-5 win over the Mets. Not to mention the joys of spending time with his
SAN DIEGO -- Fatherhood has been good to Manuel Margot.
It's brought him hits in five straight games, back-to-back contests with a home run and, on Thursday night, a shot at the cycle in the Padres' 7-5 win over the Mets. Not to mention the joys of spending time with his son, Diamond Manuel Margot.
Margot, a 22-year-old rookie, missed three games last week while on the paternity list for Diamond's birth. He said leaving his pregnant wife at home during long road trips had weighed on him earlier in the season.
"Knowing the baby could come at any moment, and knowing that I wouldn't be there or what might happen, it was definitely worrying," Margot said through an interpreter. "I was definitely a little preoccupied."
Diamond is now providing him with strength. Since his return to San Diego's outfield, Margot has been a force on both sides of the ball, continuing to play outstanding defense in center field, while hitting .524 (11-for-21) in his first five games back.
That includes Thursday, when he achieved three-fourths of a cycle in his first three at-bats. His leadoff home run off Mets starter Chris Flexen, making his Major League debut, was the Padres' seventh of 2017 and Margot's fourth, tied for the second most by a Padre in a season. At 91.4 mph, per Statcast™, it was the softest-hit home run by a Padre since June 2016.
Manager Andy Green said the effect of fatherhood might have helped carry it over the fence.
"He's got his man strength now," said Green, who has three daughters, but no sons. "He's starting to hit the ball out of the park. Maybe you get real man strength when you have a son."
Margot followed with a booming bases-loaded, two-RBI double to center in the second. With his speed, he easily could've made a triple out of it, but Padres catcher Luis Torrens, who scored on an error on the play, initially hesitated coming around third, forcing Margot to stop at second.
Margot's third hit was a well-placed bunt single down the third-base line, a skill both he and Green want him to use more going forward. Margot's three RBIs were a career high, as he recorded his 24th multi-hit game of the year, the most among National League rookies.
After a sliding catch in Wednesday's win, Margot made a play during Thursday's third inning that displayed his awareness. As first baseman William Myers vacated the bag to help with a rundown between second and third, Margot sprinted from center to cover first base. Had his teammates noticed him there, the Padres might have turned a 6-5-4-8 double play.
Margot's only shot at the cycle came in the sixth. He grounded out to third, finishing short again after homering and tripling Wednesday.
"I thought I had a pretty good chance tonight," Margot said, "but things don't always happen like you think they will."
As reporters approached Margot postgame, fellow rookie Hunter Renfroe jokingly supplied answers, telling Margot to mention the strength he's gained from holding his son, as well as the benefits of the sleepless nights he's endured.
"A lot of my teammates have said when you become a dad, you get more pop," Margot said. "Maybe it's true, maybe it's not, but I do think when you have a child, you do start to think about things. You want to come to the park every day and you want to do your best, because you're thinking about the future of someone else as well."
Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.