Schimpf elated by first career homer

Schimpf elated by first career homer

SAN DIEGO -- Don't be fooled by Ryan Schimpf's stature. Over the past five years, the Padres' 5-foot-9 rookie second baseman has hit for power practically everywhere he's been.

As of Friday night, that list now includes the Major Leagues.

In the second inning of the Padres' tense 7-6 victory over the Yankees, Schimpf launched his first career homer -- a solo shot into the beach area in right-center field.

"It's always been my game, ever since I was little -- big-swing guy, trying to drive the ball every time," Schimpf said. "That's how I've always been. But I don't want to be swing big, miss big. I want to go up there and put together a good at-bat, try to hit the ball hard."

That's precisely what Schimpf did to the 2-2 splitter that Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi left over the middle of the plate. Schimpf's rocket left the bat at 106 mph and was projected to travel 409 feet, according to Statcast™.

"It's definitely pretty cool," Schimpf said of his first homer. "Took a while. I didn't know it was gone, to be honest with you. I was just running hard, trying to get as many bases as I could. Definitely a good feeling when it got over the fence."

After a scramble in the stands, lifelong Padres fan Patrick Whinnery wound up with Schimpf's prized home run ball. When the Padres sent messengers to retrieve it, Whinnery said all he wanted in return was the opportunity to present the baseball to Schimpf in person.

"I just want to give the man his home run ball back," Whinnery said. "It's the first time I've ever caught a home run, so I just want to shake his hand, thank him for the experience."

Sure enough, after the game Schimpf emerged from the clubhouse with a broad smile. He chatted and took pictures with Whinnery and his fiance for a few minutes, before signing a different baseball for them.

For Schimpf, the home run marked a sigh of relief after 13 consecutive hitless at-bats had dropped his batting average to .103. Still, his on-base percentage sits at .310 thanks to nine times on base via walks and hit-by-pitches.

"I've been feeling good, going deep into the count," Schimpf said. "But I've just been missing some pitches I shouldn't be missing -- just getting under a few of them."

Since 2012, Schimpf's power has been the one consistent aspect of his offense. Even when his average and on-base percentage slumped in the Blue Jays' system, he managed at least 22 long balls every season.

The Padres signed the left-handed-hitting infielder to a Minor League deal before the season, and the power kept coming. At the time of his callup, his 15 dingers led Triple-A El Paso.

"He takes an aggressive pass," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Almost every year in recent years, he's hit 20-plus home runs in the Minor Leagues. [The power] is in there; it's not shocking when he does that. I think he felt that was about time that he hit one. ... He's going to hit a few more when he gets his opportunity."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.