Thursday was a pivotal date for Yangervis Solarte. The Padres second baseman, who had not played in a game since suffering a left oblique strain June 20, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso. He was scheduled for five to seven innings at his typical position. With Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline looming, at least one rival scout was expected in attendance.
Observers could see something different as soon as Friday. With Carlos Asuaje impressing, the Padres have discussed the possibility of giving Solarte a look at shortstop.
Solarte possesses scant professional experience at short, albeit more than any teammate aside from rookie Allen Cordoba and Dusty Coleman, who made his third big-league start Thursday.
A utility man in the minors, Solarte totaled 31 appearances at short before his major league debut in 2014. That season, he played the position in eight big-league games, including three after the Padres acquired him from the Yankees. Solarte, now one of San Diego’s best and most consistent hitters, has not appeared there since.
“Carlos Asuaje’s done a lot to make us want to try to find a way to keep him on the roster and in the game, and Cory Spangenberg’s doing a very solid job at third base,” Padres manager Andy Green said Thursday. “Soly provides that positional versatility with second and third that we already know he has, and I don’t think he’s going to have any issue catching the ball and throwing it across from shortstop.
“Range, he’ll tell you, is not going to be a limiting factor at all, but that’s going to be the one thing that we want to see how comfortable he is over there coming back. It’d be an interesting concept to explore with him. He’s very athletic with good hands, and we’ll see how he responds to the day at second, and we might give him a day (at shortstop Friday).”
When he went on the disabled list, Solarte was hitting .268 with 10 home runs. Through Wednesday, Asuaje had played solid defense while hitting .310 with one home run. Even after what likely will be a brief rehab assignment for Solarte, the Padres would prefer not to demote the rookie second baseman.
A trade could ease the logjam, and Solarte’s productivity and affordable contract have attracted interest. The Padres, however, are not actively shopping the 30-year-old. According to a team official, a couple of rivals have inquired about Solarte’s rehab timeline, but discussions have not progressed beyond that.
“We’ve been more focused on getting him back healthy,” the official said.
Wood to start, McGrath up
Newcomer Travis Wood will make his Padres debut Friday as a member of the rotation, Green said. Acquired Monday from Kansas City, the left-hander will start against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. Dinelson Lamet and Clayton Richard will start the final two games of the series.
The Padres maintained an eight-man bullpen Thursday by selecting left-hander Kyle McGrath from Double-A San Antonio. In corresponding roster moves, San Diego optioned right-hander Kyle Lloyd to El Paso and transferred right-hander Jarred Cosart to the 60-day disabled list.
McGrath received news of his first big-league call-up in an early-morning phone call. An elbow injury caused the 24-year-old to miss most of April and May, but he had recovered nicely. In 20 appearances with San Antonio, he posted a 2.66 ERA and 27 strikeouts against four walks.
Green said McGrath can serve as a lefty specialist or provide multiple innings out of the bullpen.
Lloyd made his major league debut Tuesday, allowing four runs over four-plus innings.
Hedges to play in AZL
The Padres continue to be cautious with catcher Austin Hedges, who went on the seven-day concussion disabled list July 18. Hedges originally was expected to return without a rehab assignment, but after catching two bullpen sessions Thursday, he is scheduled to catch five to seven innings in an Arizona Rookie League game Friday.
“The way he’s wired, if he’s not feeling great, he’s probably not going to pull himself in a big-league game, but he’ll pull himself in an AZL game,” Green said. “We’ll give him one quick look down there to make sure he feels good.”
If things go according to plan — and, so far, they have gone more slowly than hoped — Hedges will take batting practice in San Diego on Saturday and come off the disabled list Sunday.
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