Alonso just what the Padres need at first

Alonso just what the Padres need at first

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

I've heard the arguments. First basemen should hit more homers. First basemen should drive in more runs.

But at this point in time, the Padres are better off with Yonder Alonso at first base than anyone else.

Offensively and defensively, Alonso is the best option. Yes, Wil Myers proved he could play first when Alonso first went on the disabled list May 8 with the bone bruise to his right scapula. And Yangervis Solarte did the best possible job when he took over at first when Myers (left wrist tendinitis) followed Alonso to the DL three days later.

But Myers and Solarte both better serve the Padres elsewhere if Alonso is hitting what he is hitting -- which is .352 with a .439 on-base percentage.

When Alonso was injured, he was hitting .333 with a .427 on-base percentage, marks that ranked among the top five hitters in the National League. He was 3-for-4 with two runs against the Mets on Tuesday night in his return from the DL.

Plus, Alonso made a leaping catch to deprive the Mets of an extra-base hit when the game was still in question.

The left-handed-hitting Alonso is adept at playing first base. He's a superior defender to Solarte, a switch-hitter who could still spell Alonso at first against tougher left-handed pitchers. Myers looked good at first, but the sample size is too small to really define his ability there.

Besides, the Padres are better served by having the bats of both Alonso and Myers in the lineup. That might also go for Solarte.

From the scorebook

• Through the first 115 seasons of recorded baseball history, no pitcher had allowed 10 or more hits while striking out 10 or more hitters in fewer than five innings. Then it happened twice in two days at Petco Park. Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner allowed 11 hits while striking out a career-high 12 hitters in just 4 2/3 innings Monday night. And on Tuesday night, Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday allowed exactly 10 hits with 10 strikeouts in four innings. But it doesn't seem to be a good combination: The other thing Cashner and Syndergaard have in common is that both lost their games.

• Right-handed starting pitcher Ian Kennedy's roller-coaster season took another turn Tuesday night -- and this one was on the upside. Kennedy allowed the Mets two runs on six hits with two walks and a season-high eight strikeouts. It marked the second time in three starts and the fourth time in his last eight starts that Kennedy allowed two or fewer runs for a 2.52 ERA. His ERA in his other four starts since coming off the disabled list on April 25 is 13.24.

• Catcher Derek Norris threw out his 17th would-be basestealer and hit his fifth homer Tuesday night. He leads the Major Leagues in runners caught stealing and has more than doubled his previous career high (eight). Norris leads all National League catchers with 23 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs. He is hitting .299 (44-for-147) over his last 41 games since April 18, with 14 doubles, a triple, five homers and 30 RBIs.

• Right-handed starter Brandon Morrow -- who has been on the disabled list since May 3 with right shoulder inflammation -- allowed no runs on two hits and a walk over four innings in his first rehab start for Double-A San Antonio. He will likely make a second rehab start Sunday with the Missions. And center fielder Melvin Upton Jr., who has been on the disabled list since Opening Day with a foot injury, was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a steal for Triple-A El Paso to raise his batting average with the Chihuahuas to .297.