Solarte turning corner at plate after tough start

May 25th, 2017

NEW YORK -- Since moving to the No. 2 spot in the Padres' batting order this week, has logged five hits and four walks in 14 plate appearances.

How much that relates to his place in the lineup is up for debate. But Solarte feels as though he's turning a corner. That much was evident when he was approached by a couple reporters in the Padres' clubhouse on Thursday afternoon.

"I like hitting second," he said with a smirk. "But when I'm getting better, I get too many questions."

Solarte, who reached base in each of his first three plate appearances in Thursday night's 4-3 win over the Mets, is no fan of talking with others about his success when he's in the midst of a hot streak. He recalled one time a reporter approached him about his productivity with runners in scoring position.

"For one month," Solarte said, "I didn't get an RBI."

It's been a rough first couple months for Solarte, who signed a two-year extension during the offseason with a pair of team options. His average dipped to .226 on Saturday, before the Padres gave him a day off and told him he would be moving to the No. 2 spot.

"Based on what he was going through, it was just time for a change of scenery in the lineup, time to put him in a different spot, where, hopefully, he gets back to who he's always been," manager Andy Green said. "I think [it gives] the simplicity of just, 'Hey get on base, don't worry about driving runs in, being our cleanup hitter, our run-producer.'

"He's never come into the season with that in his job description. ... He came into a different situation this year with a very young team. I think he wanted to succeed so badly in that role, it kind of made it hard for him to succeed."

Ironically, Solarte drove in three runs from the No. 2 spot on Wednesday -- as many RBIs as he had recorded in his previous 18 games combined.

Green noted that the switch leaves the Padres in search of a cleanup man. But for now, he's content to trot Solarte out in front of .

"It's mostly the same," Solarte said. "Right now I might see more fastballs, because I have Wil Myers behind me. But it's the same approach. I try to hit the ball hard and that's it."

Worth noting

• As expected, center fielder was out of the lineup on Thursday, as he continues to nurse a tight right calf. Margot will also miss Friday's series opener against the Nationals, as Green noted that Margot arrived to the ballpark more sore than he was on Wednesday night. Margot tweaked his calf on Tuesday when he broke for a fly ball, but didn't alert the Padres' staff until Wednesday after he hustled down the line on a ground ball.

"This is customary with a lot of young guys," Green said. "They want to play through everything, they don't tell you everything, and so he's out there trying to compete. Until you notice anything, he wasn't saying anything. Hopefully in the future, when he goes through circumstances like that, he's more communicative with the training staff."

• Right-hander , who was hit by a liner on his right foot on Wednesday, is expected to make his next start, Green said. X-rays on the foot were negative.

• As expected, the Padres optioned infielder to Triple-A El Paso Thursday, clearing room for starter Dinelson Lamet to join the 25-man roster. Asuaje went 0-for-2 in a pair of pinch-hit appearances after being called up on Tuesday.