Padres call up Cordero for center field duty

Padres call up Cordero for center field duty

WASHINGTON -- Franchy Cordero arrived at the visiting clubhouse in Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday and noticed his name wasn't anywhere to be found on the lineup card.

"It seemed a little weird," Cordero said through a Padres interpreter. "Then [El Paso manager] Rod Barajas called me to his office and told me that I'd gotten the call and was going to the big leagues. ... I was just really, really excited. It's something I've dreamed about since I was a kid. I didn't really even have words."

Indeed, the Padres recalled Cordero, their No. 23 prospect, on Saturday as a replacement for injured center fielder Manuel Margot. In 42 games with Triple-A El Paso, Cordero was hitting .289 with an .869 OPS and seven homers. With Margot (strained right calf) on the disabled list, Cordero will see the bulk of the playing time in center field.

Cordero wasn't in the starting lineup Saturday, but made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of the Padres' 3-0 loss. He struck out against Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg.

"It'll largely be his opportunity," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Other guys will play there -- he won't be out there 10 straight days. But he's going to play and play consistently. We brought him here to get a look at him and felt like he was earning that opportunity with what he's done."

Cordero earned his callup with an impressive response to some early struggles at Triple-A. He's hitting .351/.413/.543 in May, raising his average by 74 points in the process.

The lanky 22-year-old signed with the Padres in November of 2011, making him one of the organization's longest-tenured players. He signed as a shortstop, but made a full-time conversion to the outfield last year. In that regard, his skills aren't quite honed in center. But the club feels he makes up for his relative inexperience with his instincts and athleticism.

Cordero turned plenty of heads during Spring Training with his aggressive approach at the plate. He remained with the big league club until the penultimate week of camp, an experience he said proved invaluable.

"It was really big," Cordero said. "I was able to see Major League pitching. I was able to see the best competition. Once I went down to Triple-A, I took that same approach I had in Spring Training that brought some success and applied it down there."

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.