Jankowski 'wreaking havoc' from leadoff spot

Jankowski 'wreaking havoc' from leadoff spot

SAN DIEGO -- In the 19 games the Padres have played since losing Jon Jay to the disabled list, Travis Jankowski has started in center field 13 times.

Jankowski has flourished with the increased playing time, and he continued that during Saturday's 7-6 balk-off victory against the Giants.

"He's been great," said Padres manager Andy Green. "For [Jankowski], it's all about getting on base -- and then wreaking havoc."

Jankowski did exactly that from the start Saturday, leading the game off with a walk and scoring the Padres' first run after advancing to second on Wil Myers' walk, stealing third and finally heading home on Buster Posey's wild throw.

Jankowski finished the game with two walks, a single, a run and his 16th stolen base of the season while raising his walk rate to 16.3 percent -- the highest mark of the team and the highest of his professional career.

Jankowski's slick baserunning

"I have really good plate discipline right now and it starts with an approach," Jankowski said. "I really worked on an approach with [hitting coach] Alan [Zinter] and I just stuck with it.

"And it's working and paying off."

The approach isn't some dynamic change that Jankowski has made at the plate; he's simply focusing on hunting pitches in a particular spot. Jankowski said that has shrunk the zone for him and helped him avoid chasing pitches.

Since June 21, when Jankowski started receiving more starts, the 25-year-old outfielder has hit .280 (14-for-50) with a .429 on-base percentage. Jankowski's .412 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot not only gives San Diego another non-Jay option atop the lineup, it's the best mark of any leadoff hitter the team has had this year.

According to Jankowski, everything is easier when he's able to go onto the field as a starter on a regular basis.

"It gives me a level of comfort that I can go in there and just play my game," he said. "Playing a whole game instead of the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, it's a little bit of freedom.

"And I'm an aggressive player, so it's fun to kind of go out there and show it."

With a goal to reach 35 stolen bases this season, Jay's injury and the level of production Jankowski has offered offensively and defensively with his range in center field, Jankowski will likely continue finding opportunities to display that aggressiveness.

Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.