Padres looking for more production at short

Aybar, Sardinas, Cordoba have seen time at the position

Padres looking for more production at short

ATLANTA -- Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Padres aren't getting enough production out of their shortstops.

Entering play Monday, Padres shortstops were hitting a combined .150/.292/.200 over the season's first 13 games. That poor start comes on the heels of consecutive seasons in which the Padres posted the lowest shortstop WAR in the Majors.

Luis Sardinas started Monday in place of Erick Aybar, who has handled the bulk of the workload this season. Aybar is hitting .147, but he has drawn six walks, and manager Andy Green commended Aybar's plate approach.

"Erick's going to hit," Green said. "... He's squared up some baseballs that haven't fallen. But he's not up there punching out. Most of the time, it's early action, decent at-bats."

As for Sardinas, he has been relegated to a utility role this season, also spending time at third and second base.

"Just play catch," Sardinas said of playing multiple positions. "You're just fielding the ball and you're throwing it. The biggest difference and the hardest thing is the offense. You're not seeing pitchers every day. To have some sort of timing or rhythm offensively is the biggest challenge."

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It's a challenge Green can relate to. In his four big league seasons, he played 140 games, starting only 36 of them.

"He's got to embrace the role," Green said. "He's got to have quality ABs when he gets the opportunity. It's a tough role. I know -- I lived it, personally. It's not easy to get a spot start here or there."

It's impossible to talk about San Diego's shortstop conundrum without also bringing up Trea Turner, who was dealt to the Nationals in December 2014. For the better part of the past decade, the Padres have been searching for their shortstop of the future. Turner could have filled that void.

Of course, the Padres landed Wil Myers in that deal, the face of their franchise and an All-Star first baseman in his own right. There's also optimism in the organization that perhaps the organization's No. 7 prospect Luis Urias -- currently playing short at Double-A San Antonio -- can make the transition from second.

Urias' diving stop

The Padres boast a bevy of impressive teenage shortstop prospects -- but none are close to making a Major League impact. In the short term, the Padres are turning to Aybar, Sardinas and Rule 5 pick Allen Cordoba.

At 21, Cordoba -- currently the club's No. 27 prospect -- is certainly in that mix for "shortstop of the future." After knocking his first Major League homer in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Braves, he has five hits and two walks in 14 plate appearances.

Not bad for a guy who had never played a game above Rookie ball.

Cordoba's first big league homer

"Up here, guys are throwing a lot more strikes," Cordoba said through an interpreter before the game. "Where I was last year, people were all over the place. Up here, guys don't make mistakes. They throw more strikes, but they don't make mistakes. It hasn't been overly hard in that regard because everything's in the zone. But that being said, the quality of the pitching is just really, really good."

Cordoba says he has made a few minor adjustments. But, despite the obvious gap in pitching talent, hitting is hitting -- no matter the level.

"I haven't focused too much on who's out there on the mound," said Cordoba, who won back-to-back Rookie ball batting titles in the Cardinals' system. "I just want to be prepared and have a good at-bat. That's my biggest focus."

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.