Who's where if Upton Jr., Myers, Alonso are healthy

Could Myers shift positions again?

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Let's play "what if" today. What if, say next month, Melvin Upton Jr. is ready to play for the Padres and both Wil Myers and Yonder Alonso are both healthy and still hitting like they were before they were hurt? Who plays where?

Offensively, Myers was doing great with the bat while playing center at the start of the season. But Melvin Upton is a superior defensive center fielder ... because he's one of the best defensive center fielders in the Major Leagues.

No problem, because Myers adeptly moved to first when Alonso went on the disabled list May 8 with a bone bruise to his right scapula. Myers can play first.

However, Alonso was ranked among the National League leaders in batting average (.333) and on-base percentage (.427) when he was injured as the only productive left-handed bat in San Diego's lineup.

Padres manager Bud Black likes to say "these things have a way of working themselves out." And usually he is right. Alonso's injury made it easier for Myers to slide into a more natural position. But what happens this time if everyone does happen to be healthy?

I have no idea, to be truthful. But Myers originally came up as a third baseman. The Padres third baseman at the moment Will Middlebrooks is seeing reduced playing time because a 7-for-52 drought has plunged his average from .258 to .202.

Just thinking ...

By the way, the plan is for Myers to return to the starting lineup Tuesday night to face the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series at Petco Park. Myers has missed the past six starts after suffering tendinitis to his left wrist when he jammed it while sliding into second on May 10.    

From the scorebook

• Melvin Upton Jr. went 2-for-5 with a steal, a, RBI and a run scored Monday night as he began his rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso. But don't expect to see him join the Padres immediately. Upton Jr. has been on the disabled list since San Diego acquired him from Atlanta at the start of the season. He had been in a protective walking boot until recently to protect an inflamed sesamoid bone behind the ball of his left foot. Black said Upton Jr. will get at least 50 at-bats with the Chihuahuas before joining San Diego. "This is his Spring Training," said Black. "Early on, he'll play and get a day's rest. He might appear in some games as a pinch-hitter." Rehab assignments for position players can last up to 20 games.

• Right-handed starter Josh Johnson came out of his bullpen session Friday "feeling good." He will throw at least two more bullpen sessions this week before again facing hitters in the first of possibly two simulated games before going out on a rehab assignment that could last a month. Like Melvin Upton Jr., Johnson's rehab assignment will be his Spring Training.

• Right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer has worked eight straight scoreless relief appearances covering nine innings. He has allowed four hits and two walks during the run with six strikeouts. The scoreless innings streak has lowered Maurer's ERA from 4.50 to 2.37.

• Left-handed reliever Frank Garces has allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and two walks in a total of five innings in his last three outings. His ERA has shot up to 5.40 from 1.35.