Anthony Rizzo is doing everything he can to make his brief stay in Tucson a memorable one.
Hitting an incredible .432/.494/.797 with a league-leading seven home runs through 18 games, Rizzo may force a promotion from his parent club, which is currently suffering through miserable play from their first baseman.
When San Diego traded away their franchise first baseman to the Boston Red Sox last offseason, they spent $2.85 million on a patchwork solution of two journeymen infielders, Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu. Currently hitting .121 (15 points lower than pitchers are hitting this year) with four extra-base hits and a 26-to-4 K/BB ratio, these first baseman are one of the main reasons the Padres have scored the fewest runs in baseball this year.
With a young, struggling team filled with dozens of unrecognizable faces, the Padres need a morale boost. Luckily, Rizzo is about to arrive on the scene. But fans will need to wait a while longer.
San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer said he intends to leave Rizzo in Tucson for at least a little while longer, but the offensive struggles of his last-place team will test his patience.
Citing Rizzo's development as a reason for keeping him in Tucson is a facade, as the team's only reason for keeping Rizzo in the minor leagues is for the extra year of team control they gain if they don't promote him for another month.
Fans are already starting to plead for Rizzo's promotion, and will only grow louder the longer he stays in Tucson. But they should be patient.
Even though being allowed to continue mashing inferior competition may not be significantly aiding Rizzo's development as a baseball player, getting an extra-base hit in just about every game this year has got to be doing something for his confidence. Baseball fans in Tucson should take every opportunity to go see the young slugger, who is smacking baseballs as if they were batting practice fodder.
Come June, Rizzo will certainly be a mainstay in San Diego's batting order, and Tucson fans won't have the chance to see the future MVP candidate in their back yards.
Rizzo could be a pleasant surprise to a team looking to replace the .500 slugging percentage of Adrian Gonzalez. And if they're lucky, Padres fans won't see Rizzo's incredible batting line suffer much from transitioning to the cavernous Petco Park from the hitter-friendly fields of the Pacific Coast League.
Southern California was crushed when Gonzalez, a home-grown player and face of the franchise that every local kid idolized, was dealt away by San Diego because of financial limitations. Gonzalez's superstar status can never be placed, but I'm sure Padres fans never expected to be able to replace his offensive contributions so quickly. San Diego could see a less expensive version of Gonzalez in their lineup for the second half of the season, which will surely help fuel several division titles in the years to come.
So while Gonzalez is smashing doubles off the Green Monster in Fenway this summer, Padres fans can take solace in the fact that their offensive futility could be short-lived.
Rizzo is on his way.
Tale of the tape
Anthony Rizzo: .432/.494/.797, 7 HR, 2 2B, 26 RBI
Brad Hawpe: .125/.167/.161, 0 HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Troy Glaus: .140/.194/.211, 1 HR, 1 2B, 6 RBI
April 28: vs. Colorado Springs, 7 p.m., Kino Stadium
April 29: vs. Colorado Springs, 7 p.m., Kino Stadium
April 30: vs. Colorado Springs, 7 p.m., Hi Corbett Field
April 31: vs. Colorado Springs, 6 p.m., Kino Stadium
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