Cordoba taking advantage of every opportunity

Padres' Rule 5 selection puts together impressive at-bats in loss

Cordoba taking advantage of every opportunity

SAN DIEGO -- With two outs and the the bases empty in the seventh inning Wednesday night, Allen Cordoba quickly found himself in an 0-2 count.

To everyone else in attendance at Wednesday's 3-1 Brewers victory over the Padres, the rest of the inning seemed like an afterthought. Here was Cordoba -- a 21-year-old Rule 5 selection who had never played above Rookie Ball before Opening Day -- with little chance against Brewers reliever Carlos Torres.

"My mentality in those types of at-bats, if I find myself down in a hole, down in the count, is just not to strike out and put the ball in play," Cordoba said afterward through a team interpreter. "Just battle and battle -- that's the mentality I go with."

"Battle" is really the only way to describe the rest of the at-bat.

Cordoba fouled off a tricky curveball that dotted the outside corner on the third pitch. Then, he watched two straight outside fastballs go by.

On the sixth pitch, Torres came back with another curveball, this one just below the knees. Cordoba spoiled it by chopping it foul, then spit on a fastball an inch off the outside corner.

Having worked the count full, the bright-eyed rookie finally got a hittable pitch. He kept his weight back on a Torres curveball and punched it into right field for his second hit of the night.

"The at-bat that he worked to a full count, hit the curveball into right field, was the most impressive at-bat we had on the night," manager Andy Green said. "... I like where he is. He's done a really nice job up until now. He's playing, and he's going to play more and more."

Through his first 59 big league plate appearances, Cordoba, who is coming off back-to-back rookie ball batting titles in the Cardinals organization, is hitting .278/.339/.481 with three home runs.

Earlier in the game, he hit a missile into the left-center field gap against Brewers starter Matt Garza and showed off his wheels by stretching it to a triple. His speed was on display again in the seventh when he stole second before pinch-hitter Ryan Schimpf struck out to end the threat.

All the theatrics came after the Padres had inserted Cordoba -- a lifelong shortstop -- into left field when Matt Szczur was scratched with a sore ankle.

"I'm going to give it my all wherever they put me," said Cordoba, who hasn't missed a beat in left so far this season. "That's first and foremost. Before the game, I have my routine. I'm taking ground balls at short, and then I'm getting outfield work."

For now, Cordoba will continue to serve in a bit of a utility role. But it's no secret that the Padres are still searching for their shortstop of the future.

Turns out, he might already be on their 25-man roster.

"I have to view myself [as a shortstop], especially thinking long-term, thinking about my future," Cordoba said. "I know that I can do it. I believe in myself to find a way to really take advantage of that opportunity when it comes, and find a way to stick there for years to come."

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.