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Padres to give Profar reps exclusively at second

@AJCassavell
February 15, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Over six seasons in the big leagues, Jurickson Profar has spent time at all four positions in the infield, and he's dabbled in the outfield, too. But the 26-year-old switch-hitter is in Padres camp as a second baseman exclusively, manager Jayce Tingler said. Tingler left open the

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Over six seasons in the big leagues, Jurickson Profar has spent time at all four positions in the infield, and he's dabbled in the outfield, too. But the 26-year-old switch-hitter is in Padres camp as a second baseman exclusively, manager Jayce Tingler said.

Tingler left open the possibility that Profar could bounce around during the season, if necessary. But the Padres' current roster construction makes that unlikely. They have stalwarts at first, third and shortstop, and their outfield mix is deep, too, with weapons from both sides of the plate.

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As such, Profar is expected to spend the entirety of Spring Training working at second base. A season ago, he struggled with his arm at the position, committing 11 throwing errors. The Padres feel the best way to get him on track is to give him repeated reps there.

"Right now, where we're trying to get his progression on the throwing, we find it best to just stay concentrated at second base," Tingler said. "But, again, being a switch-hitter and being able to play six or seven different positions, we view that as a positive."

Profar arrived in the November deal that sent prospects Austin Allen and Buddy Reed to Oakland. He's slated to become a free agent after the season. But second base is arguably the biggest question mark on the Padres' roster in 2020, and Profar is a strong favorite to receive the bulk of the reps there.

Last year, Profar batted .218/.301/.410 with 20 homers for a second straight season. Tingler, who worked closely with Profar as an assistant coach in Texas, appreciates the power potential. But he'd prefer that those home runs don't come at the expense of on-base percentage.

"He's transformed himself into that guy," Tingler said. "I remember him as a younger player, being able to hit the ball to all areas of the field. He's always been a tough at-bat. He does a pretty good job of staying in the zone, and he'll draw a walk.

"As he's matured, he's gotten stronger, and I think some pull-side power has come into that. But, again, we're going to ask him to get on base."

Davies forecasts a turnaround

Zach Davies arrived in Milwaukee at the beginning of Brewers manager Craig Counsell's tenure. He was a September callup in 2015, and Counsell had been appointed skipper earlier that season when Ron Roenicke was dismissed.

Davies was on hand for the entirety of the Brewers' turnaround -- from also-ran in the National League Central to a perennial contender that came one game from reaching the World Series in 2018.

"We're in a similar position here," Davies said of his new club. "It's a new manager, but he's extremely team friendly. ... I think we're going to hit the ground running. Counsell was in his first year when I got there, and there are some similarities there. And I think [the Padres have] loaded up on talent, they want to win now. I want to be a part of that. I want to make that happen."

Davies has been brought on board to do just that. He arrived in San Diego along with outfielder Trent Grisham in the trade that sent Luis Urías and Eric Lauer to Milwaukee. The deal was viewed mostly as a Grisham-for-Urías swap, but the Davies aspect is fascinating, too.

It's a win-now move for the Padres. In theory, they sacrificed five seasons of control with Lauer for two seasons of Davies -- a more stable rotation piece with a track record of big league success. Over parts of five seasons, Davies owns a 3.91 ERA. He's used mostly a sinker/changeup mix to induce a high rate of ground balls and weak contact.

As things stand, Davies projects as the Padres' No. 4 starter. He's not a lock for the rotation. (He still has two option years remaining). But he's a heavy favorite.

Noteworthy

• Two days ago, Chris Paddack voiced his desire to start on Opening Day, March 26, against the Rockies at Petco Park. New manager Jayce Tingler isn't looking that far ahead just yet. But Tingler did list three early candidates for that role.

"We've got to get through games first before we look in on that," Tingler said. "... Whether it's Chris, whether it's [Dinelson] Lamet, whether it's [Garrett] Richards, we're going to have a lot of flexibility to do what we need to do on Opening Day."

• Tingler confirmed that left-hander Matt Strahm is slated to work as a reliever this season. But given his background as a starter, Strahm will likely be used in a non-traditional sense. Expect the veteran lefty to regularly eat two or three innings, and his presence should help the Padres shorten games.

• Padres No. 3 prospect Luis Patiño threw 15 pitches in a bullpen session, which was the highlight of Saturday's workout. Former Phillie Jerad Eickhoff, who is in camp on a Minor League deal, was one of two pitchers to face hitters in a live setting. Fellow right-hander Luis Perdomo did as well.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.