LOS ANGELES -- It was hard to tell which was more notable on Friday: the fact that Brian Giles was back in the Padres lineup to begin with or the spot in which the veteran right fielder was hitting. Giles, who played his last game on May 19 in Seattle before going on the disabled list, was starting in right field for the first game of a three-game series against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. And he was hitting leadoff.More
Prior to Friday, Giles hadn't hit leadoff since the 1997 season, when he played for the Cleveland Indians, although the idea of sticking him at the top of the order is hardly a new one for manager Bud Black or Giles. "We talked about this as far back as Spring Training, as far as how to set up our lineup." Black said. "We just felt at this time that it was a nice time to make a change with Brian and Marcus [Giles] for no other reason than that, with Brian's career on-base percentage, his ability to see pitches at the start of the game might enable us to get look at that starting pitcher more. It's just a different look to see what it looks like." Brian Giles supplants younger brother Marcus Giles at the top of the Padres lineup, though Black said the move certainly isn't a permanent one by any means. Marcus Giles entered Friday's game with a .257 batting average, well off the .293 clip that he was hitting at on May 22. Marcus Giles was batting second on Friday, a spot in which he's had much more success in his career. Entering Friday's game, Marcus Giles had a .256 career average hitting in the leadoff spot and a .304 career average hitting second. "I think if you ask him, he'd tell you he feels more comfortable at the second spot," Black said. So enter Brian Giles, who hasn't appeared in a Major League game in well over a month, although he recently completed a three-game Minor League rehabilitation stint at Class A Lake Elsinore, where he hit .400 over 14 plate appearances with a home run and four walks. "I think it will be a real positive," San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said of the move. "He doesn't have to worry about hitting home runs, just getting on base." Giles -- who has a career .407 on-base percentage -- was hitting .276 with one home run and 12 RBIs for the Padres when he went on the DL with a bone bruise in his knee, an injury he believes he suffered in April while the team was in Chicago. "It felt pretty good the three days in Lake Elsinore," Giles said of his knee. "It's going to be fun to get back out there. It was nice to go out there three days and test the leg. "It probably won't be 100 percent until the season is over -- when you can take some time off. We were just trying to get through the pain-free stage. I'm to that point right now." As for hitting leadoff, Brian Giles has absolutely no issues with it. It was something that he and Black discussed during Spring Training and while he was on the DL. "I don't think that you change your approach up there," said Giles, who has a .275 career average hitting leadoff in 91 at-bats. "Obviously, I might see a few more pitches than Marcus does in that No. 1 spot. "Hopefully it will be something that jumps starts us a bit. ... I definitely have no problem trying it out and seeing how it works. As a hitter, I feel like that's my strength, knowing the strike zone." The Padres were happy to get Brian Giles back in the lineup on Friday. Giles had traveled with the team when he was rehabilitating his knee, but it just wasn't the same as having with back on the field. "On a personal level, on a professional level, you miss a guy like Brian. He keeps it loose in the clubhouse and is one of the instigators of comfort around here," Padres utilityman Geoff Blum said. "Watching him play through pain rubs off on a lot of guys and makes us work harder." No Sledge: Black indicated prior to Friday's game that outfielder Terrmel Sledge would miss a couple days due to a jammed right thumb. Sledge suffered the injury in Wednesday's game against the Giants while attempting to make a diving catch that was ruled a trap. Jose Cruz Jr. got the start in left field on Friday and likely will play there until newcomer Milton Bradley -- who was acquired in a trade earlier in the day for Minor League pitcher Andrew Brown -- joined the team on Sunday. Black said he didn't think Sledge would need to go on the DL. Friars notes: San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman was a pallbearer on Thursday at the funeral for former teammate Rod Beck. Beck died on Saturday at his home in Phoenix. The cause had yet to be determined. Beck played for the Padres in 2003-04. ... Black, outfielder Mike Cameron, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, members of the coaching staff and select players will visit the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy on Saturday in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton. ... With the signing of their first-round Draft pick, left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt, the Padres have agreed to terms with 32 of the 42 players they selected in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. On deck: The Padres continue their three-game series against Los Angeles on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. PT. Jake Peavy (9-2, 2.14 ERA) gets the start for San Diego. The Dodgers will counter with Brad Penny (10-1, 2.04).
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less