SAN DIEGO -- Cory Spangenberg finished his 2015 season on a tear. A highly-touted prospect entering that season, Spangenberg seemed destined to become a fixture in the Padres' infield for years to come.
It didn't happen as quickly as he -- or the Padres -- would have liked. But two years later, Spangenberg might finally be staking his claim at third base.
Since the All-Star break, he's hitting .336/.413/.617 with seven home runs, one coming in Tuesday's 8-4 win over the Phillies. He's hit four home runs in the last three games. Counting his lone dinger for Triple-A El Paso, Spangenberg has more homers this year (13) than any year in his life. In essence, he has become the player the Padres hoped he'd become, "and more," said manager Andy Green.
"I was impressed by him when I got the job here, the way he played the game in general," said Green, who was hired following the 2015 season. "Last year was an unbelievably tough year for him. ... But I think he's even more than that guy [from '15] right now, because that guy wasn't driving the ball out of the ballpark. He was slapping it around, running, playing with energy. He's doing all those things -- and more -- now."
Spangenberg tore his quad while legging out an infield hit April, 2016. Then he tore it again during his recovery and played in only 14 games all season.
"The last time I played consistently was the second half of 2015," Spangenberg said. "I was playing well, and the numbers were there. But I just wasn't able to stay healthy."
He started the 2017 season in the Minors, before a late-April callup. Without routine playing time, Spangenberg struggled upon his return. But since late June, he's been an integral part of the lineup.
"Obviously, I think highly of myself as a player," Spangenberg said. "I trust myself. You have to in baseball. If you don't, you're not going to get too far. This is what I think I can do, and I think I have more to show."
He'll have to keep showing it. The Padres are overflowing with options at second and third base. Both Carlos Asuaje and Yangervis Solarte are swinging hot bats, which predicated Solarte's recent move to shortstop.
It's too early to anoint Spangenberg as the Padres' third baseman for the next three years. But there's no denying his impact on all facets of a game. In his first three plate appearances Monday, he singled twice, walked, stole a base and legged out two throws on the basepaths.
In short, he did all the things you'd expect from a scrappy sparkplug atop a lineup. Lately, however, he's been hitting in the middle of the order. And in the eighth, he cranked his second opposite-field shot in as many games.
"I'm thrilled for him," Green said. "He's had to work hard. He got sent down, and he was not happy about that -- which is great. That's how you want people to handle that. He was angry about being in the Minor Leagues, thought he belonged in the big leagues and handled it right. He's gone out and proved it. He's earned his spot."