Padres' core players getting a little time off their feet

Green using DH, Szczur to give Margot, Myers, Solarte a break

Padres' core players getting a little time off their feet

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Padres manager Andy Green is using this five-game road trip to give his cornerstone players some time off their feet.

The key tools in his plan are the designated-hitter rule and the arrival of versatile outfielder Matt Szczur from the World Series champion Cubs via a trade for right-handed Double-A pitcher Justin Hancock.

First baseman Wil Myers and second baseman Yangervis Solarte have still played every game this season. But Green has used the DH spot to give both a day off from playing in the field. Solarte was the DH on Thursday at Texas and played first base on Friday night against the White Sox in Chicago to give Myers a break from playing in the field.

Friday night also marked the first time this season that rookie center fielder Manuel Margot got a full game off.

Szczur started in center and even hit in Margot's leadoff slot -- opening the game with his first homer as a Padre.

"Until Szczur got here, we haven't had anyone who could play center other than Margot since the injury to Travis Jankowski," said Green.

Jankowski has been out since April 23 with a right foot injury.

The next player likely to get a break will be right fielder Hunter Renfroe, who has played in all but one game.

Game notes

• Rule 5 rookie Allen Córdoba, 21, started in left on Friday night and went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the first multi-hit game of his Major League career. Córdoba is 4-for-7 in his last two games to raise his batting average from .222 to .279 -- not a bad figure for someone who had never played above rookie ball before this season. Green on Friday talked about Córdoba eventually developing into a "super utility" player who can play shortstop as well as center field.

"I see him as a super-utility guy, the rare guy who can play center field and shortstop," said Green. "He's going to [take] some lumps at shortstop. This is his first full season in pro ball. He has good arm strength when his arm slot is good. When it's not, throwing across the diamond has been a bit of an issue. Being labeled 'super utility' now is a badge of honor -- especially if you can play shortstop and center field. That's a rare player. Córdoba has that potential. It's a great way to be defined as an incredible player."

• Catcher Austin Hedges is 5-for-14 (.357) in his last four starts -- with a double, two homers (he now has eight on the season) with five RBIs and four runs scored. Until Hector Sanchez returns from the disabled list -- he has been out since May 6 with a right foot contusion -- the only catcher behind Hedges is 21-year-old Rule 5 Draft pick Luis Torrens.

• Righty Brandon Maurer did exactly what a closer must do on Friday night. He bounced back from a disaster to nail down a win and get the save. Maurer gave up four runs on four hits on Thursday night -- capped by a three-run Mike Napoli homer -- in just one-third of an inning to suffer his first blown save of the season, while also taking the loss. The Padres had entered the bottom of the ninth holding a 2-1 lead. On Friday, the Padres led 6-3 when Maurer took over ... and he converted his fifth save while allowing a hit with a strikeout.

• I might be making too much of this, but I find the timing interesting. Jarred Cosart is scheduled to return from the disabled list on Sunday, which is the same day Jered Weaver is making what could be a critical start against the White Sox.