Around the Horn: Third base

Utility man Solarte starting season cemented at third for Padres

Around the Horn: Third base

SAN DIEGO -- Last spring, Yangervis Solarte spent six weeks in Arizona preparing himself for a super-utility role. He actually had eight different gloves stored above his clubhouse locker at Spring Training, assuming he would bounce around the infield and outfield.

As it turns out, Solarte mostly needed just one glove in 2015 -- for third base.

Will Middlebrooks was the Padres' Opening Day third baseman, but he didn't hold onto the starting role for long. Solarte parlayed a hot start -- highlighted by a .321 batting average in April -- into an everyday job at the hot corner.

In 2015, his second full season as a starter, Solarte compiled a .270/.320/.428 line with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs. He thrived during the second half of the season, hitting .292 after the All-Star break. He posted a 1.6 WAR for the season, according to FanGraphs.

Solarte's two-run shot

A switch-hitter, Solarte fared better hitting left-handed, posting a .278/.328/.443 line from that side of the plate, with 11 of his 14 home runs and 26 of his 33 doubles coming as a lefty.

The Padres were so satisfied with Solarte's progress, they didn't spend much time -- if any -- looking for potential upgrades at third base this winter. The team would like to see Solarte improve his defense, though, as he posted a -3 in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) last season.

Manager Andy Green will have options to occasionally spell Solarte at third base throughout the season, though. Cory Spangenberg -- who will likely be the team's starting second baseman -- can play there, as can Brett Wallace, who made five appearences at third last season.

Another potential option is non-roster invitee Adam Rosales, who could make the Opening Day roster as an utility man. He's played mostly second and third base in his career. The race for the last few bench spots figures to be tight this spring.

Solarte snags liner, turns two

Still, Solarte should be able to easily eclipse in 2016 the 92 games he played at third base last season. After an impressive first full season with the Padres, he has a future at the hot corner in San Diego.

"The thing that I like about Solarte is his arm action at all positions," said Padres third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who works with the team's infielders. "A lot of times, you see guys move around to different positions, and they lose something with their arms. He's maintained it. You see the arm strength, the footwork, it's very good. He's done outstanding."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.