Spangenberg: HRs result of 'evolving' with game

Two-homer day in series finale extends single-season best to 10

Spangenberg: HRs result of 'evolving' with game

LOS ANGELES -- Andy Green knows he's not watching the same Cory Spangenberg.

As the D-backs' third-base coach in 2015, Green watched Spangenberg, then a rookie, rely on a line-drive approach with little power. Now Spangenberg's manager in San Diego, Green is seeing the third baseman hit for power, as evidenced by a two-homer performance Sunday in the Padres' 6-4 loss to the Dodgers. With the powerful showing, Spangenberg reached double digits in home runs for the first time in his career at any level.

"He takes an aggressive pass," Green said. "Guys that take aggressive passes and square balls up consistently, eventually the power starts to come. I can still picture him a couple years ago when I was with Arizona. He was slashing the ball all over the field, and the low line drives. Now those low line drives, even the other way, they're starting to get some backspin on them."

Spangenberg, already with a career-high eight homers entering play Sunday, now has double-digit home runs for the first time since 2010, when he hit 11 as a freshman at the Virginia Military Institute. He has 14 career Minor League homers and came into 2017 with seven across parts of three seasons in the Majors.

Spangenberg credits his power development to a simple change in mindset; he wants to drive the ball more out of a desire to be "evolving with the game."

"I'm just trying to do more with the baseball now," Spangenberg said. "I'm practicing it more in BP, so it's carrying more over to the games. … Obviously, when you hit the ball, you want to drive it. You want to hit the ball hard, and that's all I'm trying to do."

On Sunday, Spangenberg parked a 1-2 fastball from Kenta Maeda into Dodger Stadium's right-center-field bleachers. The ball traveled a Statcast-projected 408 feet to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.

After L.A.'s five-run outburst in the fourth, Spangenberg reduced the deficit by swatting a two-run shot to left in the sixth. Projected at 375 feet, it was Spangenberg's shortest homer of the season, but the ability to put the ball over the fence the other way reflects improvement. Surprisingly sent to Triple-A to start the season, Spangenberg is slashing .271/.324/.414 for the Padres.

"He's driving baseballs," Green said. "He's been really good for us for a long time. He's been having really good at-bats."

In the series, Spangenberg went 5-for-11 while playing quality defense at third, including a sliding catch in foul territory in Sunday's sixth. His final at-bat came in the eighth, with Manuel Margot on second and no outs. He grounded out to second to advance Margot to third, a piece of situational hitting Green praised, but the Padres were unable to bring in the run as they lost a second straight game in which they had led.

Still, Spangenberg viewed the series as a sign of progress for the young club.

"I love the way we're playing right now," he said. "We're fighting. We're in every game. We never give up. We never think we're going to lose. We just battle the whole time."

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.