Solarte breaks out of slump with authority

Padres third baseman goes 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in win over Reds

August 9th, 2017

CINCINNATI -- After spending a month on the disabled list and another week shaking off rust, is playing like himself again.

That means he's producing in the middle of the Padres' lineup. That much was evident Tuesday, when Solarte went 3-for-5 with a no-doubt home run and three RBIs in San Diego's 7-3 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

It also means Solarte is having fun. That much was also evident following his seventh-inning blast, which landed 13 rows deep in the right-field seats. So amped was Solarte that he didn't even wait to touch home plate for his trademark celebration.

As he does after every dinger, Solarte pointed to the sky and executed his overhand "alligator" clap. This time, however, he did so halfway down the third-base line, and with more than his usual gusto.

"It's really hard to see everyone else playing and knowing you can help," Solarte said through a team translator of his recent injury. "But that's part of it. Now I'm back with the team. I just have to take care of myself and keep working hard."

It was Solarte's best performance since his return from the DL on July 30. He missed 32 games with a strained left oblique and was hitless in his first 12 at-bats after re-joining the Padres.

But Solarte went 4-for-11 with a homer during the Friars' series last weekend in Pittsburgh, and he notched an RBI groundout and singled twice before his seventh-inning homer on Tuesday. Over his last four starts, Solarte is 8-for-19 at the plate with a pair of homers.

"It was a matter of time," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He can hit, and he's always hit."

Admittedly, it's taken a bit more time for the switch-hitting Solarte to regain his right-handed swing. His ailing left oblique prevented him from taking swings from that side of the plate until much later in his recovery.

Since his return, he's hitless in four at-bats against left-handed pitching.

"I felt good yesterday, making good contact from the right side," Solarte said. "I'll just wait for that to come back, little by little."

Solarte simply needs a few more at-bats before he's in a groove from both sides. Green called it "a matter of time."

"You've got to play every day to get into that feel," Solarte said. "That's really all you can do."