Jankowski aims to make impact in final stretch

'This was a rude awakening,' outfielder says of injury that derailed season

Jankowski aims to make impact in final stretch

SAN DIEGO -- With about a week left in what has essentially been a lost season, Travis Jankowski wants to prove he's himself again.

After breaking the navicular bone in his right foot, Jankowski missed nearly three months. The San Diego outfielder's game is built around his speed and his outstanding defense. On Friday against the Rockies, though, he went 2-for-3 with a stolen base while providing smooth defense in right field, his quickness once again on display.

"It's been a long time coming since that happened," Jankowski said before Saturday's game. "I want to make an impact at this level and show them that this year wasn't a waste."

Jankowski played on the broken foot for a week in April, thinking it was only a bone bruise. However, the injury impacted how he played. Jankowski, who stole 30 bases in 131 games for San Diego last year, was no longer confident he could beat out infield grounders. He couldn't bunt for hits. He spent that week trying to display power that wasn't in his arsenal.

When Jankowski went on the disabled list, he was hitting .160.

"I might've been trying to do too much," Jankowski said. "Instead of that 'line drive over the shortstop' mentality, it was trying to put the ball in the gap. Pretty evident that that's not my style of play."

Once healthy in mid-July, Jankowski was optioned to Triple-A El Paso, as Jose Pirela's hot start displaced him from the Padres' left-field job. He returned to San Diego on Monday once the Chihuahuas' season ended.

After going hitless in his first five at-bats back, Jankowski posted his second multi-hit game of 2017. Padres manager Andy Green wants more of the same over the season's final days.

"I want to see him do what he did [Friday]," Green said. "Go play elite defense, change the game with your legs, and hit the ball hard and on a line and get on base. If Travis does that, he'll be back to the player that he was."

Next season remains a question for Jankowski. He's unsure whether he'll play winter ball to make up for the lost at-bats. He'll get married in October, followed by a two-week honeymoon in Punta Cana.

Jankowski plans to find time to prepare for 2018, saying he wants to "be the best version of myself possible." As it stands, Spring Training will feature Manuel Margot, Pirela, Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson and others fighting Jankowski for spots in the Padres' outfield.

"He's in competition, he knows that," Green said. "It's a long list of guys, and I think all that competition should serve all of them very well."

As the season finishes, Jankowski is happy to be back at Petco Park and playing like himself. He won't take that for granted going forward.

"This opportunity, this lifestyle can be taken away from you at any second," he said. "Instead of going in and thinking about the year you're having or anything like that, thinking about the future, you have to live day to day, go out there and do everything you can on that play, in that minute, in that inning.

"This was a rude awakening, this year, this injury, to enjoy every second of it."

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.