Hosmer activated from IL, returns to lineup

August 9th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres activated from the injured list ahead of Saturday's game against the D-backs, and he made his return to the lineup, playing first base and batting fifth. He went 0-for-4 in San Diego's 3-2 loss.

Hosmer took part in the team's intrasquad game at its alternate training site at the University of San Diego on Friday and received several plate appearances, setting him up to return from the injured list on Saturday, the earliest date possible. The Padres optioned outfielder in a corresponding move.

“Obviously I’ve been wanting to be in the lineup for a while, don’t like being on the IL, so I’m glad to be back in there with the guys tonight,” Hosmer said.

Hosmer hasn't played since July 28, following a bout with what the team called gastritis. But Hosmer said he never received a precise diagnosis, and he expects to see specialists after the season to try and nail down the root cause of the gastrointestinal illness.

For now, however, Hosmer says he feels healthy and is back to full strength after losing some weight in his early struggles with the illness, which was not COVID-19 related, according to team doctors.

“I went a couple weeks there struggling to get fluids down, nutrients down,” Hosmer said. “I’ve been on a pretty consistent schedule now as far as eating. … I definitely feel like I’m starting to get a lot of strength back. I’ve been able to do some baseball workouts the last three or four days and feel like everything is coming back to normal.”

If Hosmer hits like he has through three games, the Padres could use his bat back in their lineup. He has reached base seven times in 12 plate appearances, while driving in seven runs.

“It was extremely frustrating, the way the whole entire year has shaken out,” Hosmer said. “When it was finally time to play the season, I’m feeling good, ready to go. And then this kind of hit me all at once.”

In Hosmer’s absence, however, rookie has played a brilliant first base. He slid to second on Saturday to clear room for Hosmer. That’s where Cronenworth will likely get the bulk of his reps going forward. But he’s a plus defender at all four infield positions, and he could be used to spell Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. on the left side as well (though the left-handed-hitting Cronenworth likely wouldn't start against lefty pitching).

"The way Jake has played, and his versatility, there are a lot of options for him," manager Jayce Tingler said. "If he continues to play great defense and have very good at-bats -- it's going to be hard to take him out of the lineup, that's for sure."

Rotation aligned through Sunday
Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet will start against the D-backs on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, but Tingler wouldn't go into any further detail regarding his rotation.

There's still one starting job available after Joey Lucchesi was optioned to the team’s alternate training site on Thursday. The Padres need to fill that rotation spot either Monday or Tuesday against the Dodgers, with Garrett Richards getting the other start.

The Friars promoted Luis Patiño earlier this week, and he made his big league debut out of the bullpen on Wednesday night. Might the current vacancy become an opportunity for the 20-year-old right-hander to make his first big league start?

"It could, potentially," Tingler said. "But we're going to get through these next three games here [against] Arizona, then line up what we need to do."

Cal Quantrill, who has served as the second half of a tandem with Lucchesi, is also an option for that start. But the Padres will explore other possibilities, too, including openers and bullpen days.

As for Lucchesi, he struggled through two outings, allowing five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 frames. But Tingler was quick to say he's not writing off the left-hander.

"You've got to go and get back to work and be ready to go," Tingler said of Lucchesi, who will work much deeper into games at the team's alternate site. "We know we're going to need him, it's just a matter of when."

Dog days
Friday's contest marked the first of 17 straight days with a game scheduled for the Padres -- their longest stretch of the season without an off-day.

"The part that's shocking is understanding that after these 17 games go down, before the next off-day, we're going to be at the halfway point," Tingler said. "That feels really quick. ... The hard thing is to stay in the present and stay [focused on] tonight. If we treat the next 17 like that, individually, then we'll regroup and understand where we're at at the halfway point."

Even in a 60-game regular season, Tingler said to expect off-days or designated-hitter days for some of the team's regulars over the next couple weeks. Tommy Pham started at DH on Friday.