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Padres experimenting with leadoff hitters vs. Phillies

Sun Aug 18 2:43am ET

Several teams have used a closer-by-committee approach.

But a leadoff hitter by committee?

That's what the San Diego Padres are looking at since prized rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. went on the 10-day injured list prior to Friday's series opener in Philadelphia. He is most likely done for the season because of a stress reaction in his back.

Tatis, considered a leading contender for the National League's Rookie of the Year Award, had batted first in 48 consecutive games. In 63 games overall atop the batting order, he hit .323 with .593 slugging and .979 on-base plus slugging percentages, the best in the majors in all three categories among leadoff hitters.

"It's nice to have one of the best baseball players in the game at the top of your order," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Any batting order would love that. But yeah, it was one less decision you make every single day coming to the ballpark."

After Luis Urias batted leadoff in an 8-4 loss Friday, Manuel Margot got a chance Saturday night against the Phillies, when the Padres rallied from a three-run deficit for a 5-3 victory. Margot went 1 for 5 with a run and an RBI.

Last season, Margot hit just .183 with a .210 on-base percentage in 35 starts in the leadoff spot.

"I probably was resistant to put Manny up there (Friday) just because of past history and how well he's done being left alone at the bottom part of the order," Green said. "But we need more out of him right now."

Green also mentioned Greg Garcia and Travis Jankowski as potential leadoff candidates when healthy, saying they "make obvious sense. In their absence, it's a little bit of a quest to find that person right now."

The Padres are scheduled to send left-hander Joey Lucchesi (7-7, 4.25 ERA) to the mound in Sunday's series finale. The Padres have lost all six of Lucchesi's starts since the All-Star break, but he beat the Phillies with six scoreless innings in his only previous start against them, Aug. 12, 2018, in San Diego.

The Phillies plan to counter with lefty Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.03 ERA), who was acquired from the New York Mets before the July 31 trade deadline. Vargas is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts for Philadelphia, and 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in six starts in his career against San Diego.

The Phillies had a four-game winning streak snapped Saturday and fell one game behind the Chicago Cubs in the chase for the National League's second and final wild-card playoff berth.

It was their first defeat in five games since former manager Charlie Manuel was named the team's hitting coach.

"Of course Charlie's had an impact," Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, who homered Saturday, told MLB.com. "Just having him in the dugout, being able to walk by him and say something as simple as, 'Hey, stay short.' He's a guy that everybody in this clubhouse looks up to, so we're definitely glad to have him."

--Field Level Media


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