Grisham to IL (heel bruise); 6-man rotation?

May 24th, 2021

A newsy Monday after the Padres' most successful homestand in at least 11 years. Here are four quick takeaways:

1. Grisham lands on the injured list

The Padres placed center fielder Trent Grisham on the injured list Monday, activating Brian O'Grady to take his place on the roster. That means no Milwaukee homecoming for Grisham, who was dealt to San Diego in 2019, in one of the most successful trades of A.J. Preller's tenure.

The Padres are optimistic that Grisham won't miss too much time, perhaps only the minimum 10 days, which would see him return next Tuesday in Chicago. He's dealing with a left heel bruise that Tingler said was linked to some of the other leg issues he's endured recently. (Grisham dealt with hamstring and quad issues earlier this season.)

"There would've been a time and a place to play through it," Tingler said. "We just didn't feel that right now was the time to do that, especially when we've got an opportunity to get him off his feet, get that foot back to 100 percent."

It's merely the latest IL stint the Padres will be forced to endure, after five other offensive contributors landed there two weeks ago due to COVID-19 related issues. They haven't had a full-strength offense since then, yet they've posted an 11-1 record in that span.

In Grisham's absence, Tingler said Jurickson Profar, Jorge Mateo and Brian O'Grady will be asked to handle center field.

2. Pivoting to a six-man rotation

With 20 games in 20 days, the Padres are temporarily moving to a six-man rotation, Tingler said, with the goal of easing the burden on their starting pitchers.

It begins this week, with Dinelson Lamet moving from the bullpen back into the rotation, though it remains unclear just how much length will be asked of Lamet, who pitched three innings for the first time on Saturday. Lamet will face the Astros in Houston on Friday.

"It's a product of 20 games in 20 days," Tingler said. "It's good for everybody. ... Look, things can change quickly, but as of right now, I like the idea of everybody getting an extra day of rest in between their starts."

It's unclear how permanent this six-man rotation might be. It depends an awful lot on Lamet's health. He has been built up slowly from the UCL strain he sustained last September.

3. Tatis cleaning up

Grisham and Manny Machado had been serving as the lineup's 1-2 punch for the past couple weeks. But with Grisham on the IL and Machado still out as he nurses some left shoulder soreness, the top of the Padres' lineup has taken a hit. But evidently, not enough of a hit to move Tatis out of the No. 4 spot.

Now, before we delve too deeply into any discussion about where Tatis should hit in the lineup, Tingler wants to clarify something:

"He can hit anywhere," Tingler said.

Noted. Still, since Tatis' return from the IL, the Padres have generated an absurd amount of RBI opportunities for their most potent RBI threat. That's not something Tatis had in the leadoff spot -- particularly this season with the return of the pitcher hitting in the National League.

The Padres have also stacked the first three spots in their lineup with some version of left-right-left, in front of the righty-hitting Tatis in every game. Then, they've put the lefty-hitting Hosmer behind him.

That creates some tricky decisions for opposing managers -- especially considering the way Tatis torches pitchers from both sides. Should they use a tough right-hander to face the club's hottest hitter, leaving themselves vulnerable to the lefties around him? Or do they call on a lefty to get those guys out and take their chances against Tatis?

The way Tatis has been swinging the bat these days, there's no right answer.

"I feel pretty good [hitting cleanup]," Tatis said. "I like the situations that I get when I'm going to the plate."

4. Machado on the mend

Machado missed a fourth consecutive game because of the same shoulder soreness that has lingered for about a month. He had tests on the shoulder Friday night which revealed inflammation, but no structural damage.

It's fair to wonder how much that balky shoulder has contributed to Machado's slow start at the plate. He's hitting just .225/.323/.394 (though he's been excellent defensively and on the basepaths). It's also fair to wonder whether Machado might soon be destined for an IL stint, too. Tingler says that's unlikely.

"We're going to go day by day with it, as long as he can continue to progress," Tingler said.

Of course, there's more reason for reassurance beyond Tingler's words. If the Padres truly thought Machado's injury was IL-worthy, they'd likely have placed him on the IL prior to Monday's game, so they could back-date his stint to Friday. The fact that they haven't indicates they truly believe his return is imminent.