Margot pacing Padres from leadoff spot

Margot pacing Padres from leadoff spot

DENVER -- As San Diego exceeds early expectations in the opening weeks of the season, no player has done more to pace the Padres than the man at the top of the lineup, rookie center fielder Manuel Margot.

After the Padres' 6-0 win over the Rockies on Wednesday, Margot was hitting .325 (13-for-40) with three homers and eight runs in 10 games. He doubled on the first pitch of the game against Colorado, sparking a four-run rally and extending his hitting streak to six games.

With his leadoff homer Tuesday, he became the first Padre ever to hit two leadoff homers in the first nine games of the season, according to Elias, and the first Major League rookie to hit two leadoff homers in the first nine games of the season since Lou Brock did it in seven games for the '62 Cubs.

"It's not what we were expecting from him," manager Andy Green said Wednesday. "We were expecting really strong competitive at-bats, slashing the ball around the yard, but we'll take the three home runs early on from him. I couldn't be more pleased with his early season effort. He's been outstanding."

Margot takes his role seriously and is fully cognizant of his potential to establish the tenor of each game from his leadoff spot.

"For me, hitting first is a big responsibility, a big commitment," Margot said through Padres interpreter David Longley. "I take a lot of pride, because if I'm able to get on base and set the tone, it sets everyone else in the lineup up. That's pretty important for us to score runs."

He's had five multi-hit games and is among the rookie leaders in runs scored (eight), doubles (four), hits (13), slugging percentage (.650) and total bases (26).

"He competes every single at-bat," Green said of his value in the leadoff role. "It's been quality at-bat after quality at-bat since he got in that spot. It's competitive. He can fly on the bases. Puts pressure on pitchers, puts pressure on defense."

Margot's first Major League stint came in late September last year -- immediately after being named the Pacific Coast League playoff MVP. He hit .243 (9-for-37) and stole two bases in 10 games with the Padres. The experience helped pave the way for him to find his comfort level early in '17.

"Last year was a big learning year for me," Margot said. "I learned a ton throughout the course of the season, especially when I went down to the Dominican Republic and I was around some of the guys I was playing with during the winter. Getting a feel for some of the tactics and the gameplay situations has helped me a lot coming up to this level."

The early confidence is showing as Margot has gone beyond table-setting and set the tone for his team through its first 10 games.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Padres on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.