SAN DIEGO -- In a somewhat surprising roster move, the Padres optioned slumping third baseman Ryan Schimpf to Triple-A El Paso on Friday, recalling right-hander Jose Valdez to help fill out a depleted bullpen.Schimpf's 14 homers are the most by a Padre this season, but he had struggled mightily of
SAN DIEGO -- In a somewhat surprising roster move, the Padres optioned slumping third baseman Ryan Schimpf to Triple-A El Paso on Friday, recalling right-hander Jose Valdez to help fill out a depleted bullpen.
Schimpf's 14 homers are the most by a Padre this season, but he had struggled mightily of late, with eight hits, six walks and 28 strikeouts in his last 65 plate appearances. On the season, Schimpf is batting .158/.284/.424.
"More than anything else, for him, it was about going down, getting consistent at-bats," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Turn the mind off and just turn the swing back on. Get it going in the right direction again."
Despite his poor batting average, Schimpf was one of the most productive Padres during the second half of last season -- largely because of his power and his ability to take walks. His power hasn't subsided, but in the past calendar month, he's struck out 34 times to just six walks.
Along with the strikeouts, Schimpf hasn't squared the ball up nearly as much this season as he did a year ago. His average exit velocity is down five mph, from 90 to 85. That's not a good sign for any hitter -- but specifically for Schimpf, who hits fly balls at a higher rate than any other player in baseball. (Weak fly balls almost always turn into outs.)
"We believe a lot in him and think there's a lot of offensive punch in his bat," said Green. "We like some of the things he's done this year. But there's more, so we think the best thing we can do is send him to the Minor Leagues and give him an opportunity to find himself again. We still very much consider him a part of the future."
Moving forward, the Padres expect Cory Spangenberg to see the bulk of the playing time in Schimpf's absence. But Yangervis Solarte will slide to third base against certain left-handed pitchers, with Jose Pirela taking Solarte's place at second. Since his callup Tuesday, Pirela is 5-for-11 with a pair of doubles.
Valdez, meanwhile, provides some much-needed bullpen depth, after Padres starters combined for just 12 innings during their three-game series in Arizona this week. Since being claimed from the Angels earlier this year, Valdez has allowed six runs on 15 hits in 10 innings for El Paso.
Despite Valdez's promotion, the move is essentially a Schimpf-for-Pirela swap. Pirela was recalled when Jarred Cosart hit the disabled list with an elbow strain. Miguel Diaz took Cosart's rotation place, and when the Padres needed a pitcher to replace Diaz in the 'pen, they sent Schimpf to the Minors instead of Pirela.
"He needs to get down there, have good at-bat after good at-bat after good at-bat and stack those things on top of each other, build the confidence back and come back and be ready to contribute," Green said. "I just think he needs at-bats, and sometimes, it's good to step away from the scene here and get back to Triple-A and start hitting."
• Jered Weaver could begin a rehab stint as early as next week after he came out of his bullpen session Friday feeling freeness in his inflamed right hip.
• Right-hander Trevor Cahill is approaching his first bullpen session in his recovery from a right shoulder strain, Green said. No date has been set.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.