Cure to Padres' woes? Get Grisham back

June 9th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres miss . Of course they do. Grisham is a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder and an on-base weapon atop their lineup. On a team full of superstars, he's been one of San Diego’s most impactful players over the past two seasons.

But when Grisham landed on the injured list two weeks ago with a left heel bruise, could they have envisioned missing him this much?

Without an obvious backup center fielder, the Padres' defense has slumped. Their offense, on the whole, has slumped, too. And while Grisham isn't a cure-all for the offensive woes, it's hard to overstate his impact atop the lineup.

"It's testing my patience," Grisham said with a laugh. "And I'm not very patient. It's getting better, though. It's manageable now. I can play on it. Hopefully we get going these next few days, get on a rehab assignment.”

When might he return?
The Padres were hopeful that Grisham would've returned immediately after his 10-day IL stint, but the injury lingered and was particularly bothersome when he decelerated while running.

But Grisham has gone through daily running drills, including running the bases aggressively on Wednesday morning. He's also taken regular reps in the batting cage and even took on-field batting practice on Tuesday.

“It’s just about getting your legs back under you, getting conditioned again,” Grisham said. “Playing nine innings every night is a different animal.”

It seems possible that when the Padres leave for New York to face the Mets this weekend, Grisham will head to Triple-A El Paso for a rehab stint. From there, the length of his rehab will depend on how he feels, manager Jayce Tingler said.

What happens to the outfield?
Grisham's return will have a knock-on effect in San Diego's outfield. The Padres have scrambled to fill center field with a combination of Jurickson Profar and Tommy Pham -- neither of whom can truly be considered a center fielder.

Grisham's return would stabilize that situation -- and a whole lot else. Pham would move back to left field, and he'd presumably remain in the everyday lineup -- at least as long as he's reaching base at a .366 clip.

That should leave Wil Myers and Profar to vie for starts in right field, and maybe a timeshare is the best way to handle the fact that both have slumped. Profar and Myers are very different hitters with different skill sets that play against different types of pitchers.

What happens atop the lineup?
This is an intriguing question. Grisham has been a mainstay at the top of the Padres' lineup. He's hitting .301/.383/.515 in 36 games this season. But in his absence, Pham has filled that role brilliantly. He's reaching base at a .425 clip over the past calendar month.

So what happens when both of those options are available to Tingler? Well, that's a solid pair of table-setters for Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. Grisham brings a bit more thump than Pham, and he's a lefty who could split up a bunch of right-handed bats, so it's probably fair to guess that Pham remains in the leadoff spot, with Grisham hitting second.

In all likelihood, that would drop Jake Cronenworth from the No. 3 spot in the lineup, perhaps to 6 or 7. Considering the way the Padres' lack of lineup depth has hurt them over the past two weeks, they'd be just fine with that.

Does Grisham's return impact the chance of a trade?
The Padres' recent offensive woes have led to speculation about the team's need for another outfield bat. It's certainly possible that general manager A.J. Preller will look to add another hitter at next month's Trade Deadline.

But the reality is this: The Padres haven't had a fully healthy outfield in a long, long time. They'd like to find out what that looks like before making a move. If they get Grisham back this weekend or early next week, they'd theoretically have some time to evaluate internally before looking externally.

With a healthy Grisham and a thriving Pham and perhaps a Myers-Profar timeshare with a dash of Brian O’Grady, maybe the Padres would feel they have enough to stand pat.

First thing’s first, however: The Padres need Grisham back.