Padres keep up league-best pinch-hitting power

Padres keep up league-best pinch-hitting power

DENVER -- Believe it not, the Padres, who have been shut out 17 times this season, actually lead the big leagues in a notable offensive category -- pinch-hit home runs.

Rookie Cory Spangenberg's home run in Saturday's 7-6 loss in 12 innings to the Rockies gave the Padres their 11th pinch-hit home run of the season. That's three more than the Jays, who have eight.

That home run also established the new club record, breaking the old mark of 10 set in 1995.

Spangenberg has two pinch-hit home runs -- both coming in the last week. Teammates Yasmani Grandal and Carlos Quentin also have two. Alexi Amarista, Tommy Medica, Xavier Nady, Seth Smith and Will Venable each have one pinch-hit home run.

San Diego manager Bud Black said that while the team's bench wasn't specifically constructed with the home run in mind, it shows the importance of having capable hitters available, especially on a National League team, where the bench is utilized more.

"I think it goes back to the types of games we play, low-scoring games," Black said. "Those [pinch-hit] at-bats are critical. It's nice to have the right player there on the bench."

To that end, Black said hitting coaches Phil Plantier and Alonzo Powell have done a good job in helping prepare hitters for that job, one that Black considers one of the toughest in the game.

"It's something we talk about and plan for. With the second hitting coach, the ballpark with underneath batting cages, the ability to take swings, video of pitching, you can get a guy or guys dialed in as best as you can," Black said. "I think our guys do a great job."

Spangenberg, who hasn't needed to pinch-hit much in the Minor Leagues, has relied on Plantier and also Powell in his brief stint in the Major Leagues to help him set a routine for when he's been called upon to hit late in games.

"[Powell] and Plant have talked to me about how I should go about it, "Spangenberg said. "They've helped me a ton.

"For me, it's getting swings in the cage, staying loose and staying mentally in the game. When I get up to the plate, it's staying aggressive through the at-bat and then don't miss your pitch when you get it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.