Pirela's hard work earning him regular OF time

Left fielder hits home run in game vs. Twins

Pirela's hard work earning him regular OF time

SAN DIEGO -- Jose Pirela has long carried a reputation as a hitter. He's raked in the Minors. He's raked in winter ball. And now he's raking in the big leagues.

Pirela provided all the Padres' offense in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to Minnesota. He launched a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning to straightaway center field.

Since his callup two months ago, Pirela has become an indispensible bat in the Padres' lineup. He was moved to the No. 3 spot in the batting order on Saturday, and he's gone 4-for-14 since -- with all of those hits going for extra bases. 

"I really just like to hit and be in the lineup," Pirela said through an interpreter. "It doesn't really matter where they put me. If they put me ninth, if they put me third, I just want to take advantage of that opportunity."

Whether in the outfield or at second base, Pirela's glove work has been shoddy at times. That was the case Wednesday when he misplayed a fly ball in the sixth, turning it into a two-base error.

But it's also clear that few players work harder than Pirela -- and that he takes immense pride in his bat.

"It's not that easy," Pirela said. "I'm still learning something new every day. I come to the park, put in my routine. I'm putting in the work, and that's all you can do. You go to the cage, you focus. It's not something that's natural or easy, but you have to go to the game feeling comfortable in the work you've put in. That's what leads to results."

Pirela has entrenched himself so deeply in the Padres' offense that it appears unlikely Travis Jankowski will be activated Friday when his rehab stint comes to an end. Jankowski, who sustained a fracture in his right foot in April, is probably destined to remain at Triple-A El Paso.

Padres manager Andy Green noted that Jankowski will likely make his return to the Padres shortly. Green didn't rule out bringing the third-year outfielder up Friday in Pittsburgh. But with Pirela's recent success, there's no outfield spot readily available.

It's been quite the revival season for Pirela, who missed much of 2016 with a nagging Achilles injury. He was removed from the 40-man roster in December and signed a Minor League deal.

Green has long been a fan of Pirela's bat. But even he couldn't have foreseen a .294/.333/.508 slash line over his first two months.

"If we thought that was going to happen, we wouldn't have sent him to Triple-A to start the baseball season," Green said. "It's to his credit. He's worked incredibly hard. He does not take at-bats off. He might strike out, but he's coming right back at you the next at-bat. ... He deserves all the credit for what he's turned himself into this season. He's earned every bit of the opportunity he's given."

Worth noting

• Rookie right-hander Miguel Diaz has begun throwing bullpen sessions as he continues his recovery from a right forearm strain. He could return toward the end of the month.

• Left-hander Christian Friedrich, who pitched three scoreless frames for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore on Monday, will make another rehab start Saturday, and possibly could pitch up to five innings.

• Wednesday afternoon marked the first of seven Friar Family Days at Petco Park, featuring a ticket package costing $20 for adults and $15 for kids 14-and-under. The package also includes a hot dog and a soda.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.