WASHINGTON -- Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf insists that he's not thinking about hitting home runs every time he steps up to the plate."Honestly, I can't ever recall trying to hit a homer and then hitting one," he said. "It just happens."On Sunday it happened again, for the ninth time
WASHINGTON -- Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf insists that he's not thinking about hitting home runs every time he steps up to the plate.
"Honestly, I can't ever recall trying to hit a homer and then hitting one," he said. "It just happens."
On Sunday it happened again, for the ninth time this month, which is tops in the Majors in July. Schimpf's solo blast Sunday off Nationals reliever Shawn Kelly tied the game at six in the eighth inning, setting the stage for an eventual 10-6 San Diego win.
By going deep for the second time in as many days, Schimpf also established a Padres rookie record with nine home runs in a single calendar month -- one better than the eight homers Jedd Gyorko hit as a rookie in August 2013. Schimpf also set a new Major League record for homers by a rookie second baseman in the month of July, and is two short of Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who holds the overall rookie record for homers in the month of July.
The home run record -- with six games still to play this month -- is the latest in a string of highlights for the 28-year-old rookie who made his big league debut on June 14 after spending parts of eight seasons in the Minors.
"It's fun for all of us to watch a guy come up whose paid his dues as long as he has and never received much of an opportunity," said manager Andy Green.
His home run on Sunday was the second of back-to-back shots with Alex Dickerson, whose solo shot extended the Padres' team-record streak to 22 straight games with a home run.
Schimpf was a highly-touted prospect out of Louisiana State University with the Blue Jays selecting him in the fifth round of the 2009 Draft. He signed with Toronto that summer and spent seven seasons with the Blue Jays' organization, but never played above Triple-A Buffalo.
"I saw a lot of what we're seeing now," said Padres reliever Brett Wallace, who played with Schimpf in Buffalo in 2014. "He showed his power in Triple-A, he produced runs, he played the game the right way. I always felt like he was a guy that helped us win games and that he would get his opportunity in the big leagues. I'm glad I'm here to see it."
Schimpf's impressive showing goes beyond the home runs with 17 of his 21 career hits going for extra bases. He leads the Majors with an .872 slugging percentage and 1.249 OPS in July.
"I always believed that I would get here," Schimpf said after going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs on Sunday. "That's why I struck around for so long. And I'm not the only guy to get to the big leagues later in their [career]. But I always believed, whereas some guys maybe would have stopped. I always believed that I'd get here at some point, it was just a matter of where and when."
With Schimpf emerging as an everyday player, the Padres' first-ever trip to Toronto has come at the perfect time for their second baseman, who is likely playing his way to National League Rookie of the Month honors. The Padres begin a three-game series in Toronto on Monday.
"Just about everyone in baseball would dismiss it or say it's not a big deal playing against the organization that drafted you and didn't give you a shot, but it is," said Green. "I know he wants to show everyone in Toronto what he can do on the field. It's not added pressure, but I'm sure it's extra incentive to show 'Hey this is what you had. This is what I have,' and it's good to show it on this stage.
"There are doubters everywhere and you can always play with a chip on your shoulder, but it will be fun to go up there," Schimpf said. "I never had a chance to go up there as a big leaguer for them, but all I care about is that I'm in the big leagues with the Padres so the main focus is to do well and get a win. That would make it a good trip."
Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com.