Blanks faring well in initial outfield stint
Big slugger adapting to new role, plays at first on Sunday
ARLINGTON -- Kyle Blanks will start at first base Sunday night for the Padres, but that may be the last time he sees his old position for a while.
Manager Bud Black gave Adrian Gonzalez a partial opportunity to rest by putting his superstar first baseman in the designated hitter's spot during Sunday's game against the Rangers.Blanks doesn't have much experience in the outfield, but Black thinks he has played out there well so far. "Early reports are he's handling himself well," Black said. "If you look at him [Blanks is 6-foot-8, 285 pounds], you wouldn't think he's a fit. But there are other left fielders who have played the position their whole lives that are worse than him. He's done it all of 15 days." He played right field for all of nine innings while in rookie ball before switching to the outfield a few days before his call up to the Major Leagues on June 21. To prepare himself for making the switch from first to the outfield, Blanks asked his fellow outfielders and coaches for all of the tips they could provide. He credits their help for his success so far, but says he has a little work to do in terms of communication and preparing before a pitch is thrown with what he's going to do with the ball if it's hit to him. Black also thinks Blanks' personality has helped him adjust to the outfield. "I think it depends on the individual," Black said. "Those guys who handle it best have that, 'I'm gonna go out there with no reservations. I'm a baseball player. I'm going to throw caution to the wind and go out and play.' "I think Kyle is one of those guys. Some guys are up for an adventure. I think it's an adventure playing left. For a big guy, he's fairly athletic." Blanks played baseball, basketball and football in high school. He has the attitude that Black said would be necessary for success in transitioning to the outfield. "Whenever, wherever, it's not up to me," Blanks said. "Anywhere that I can play is fine with me." With the Padres losing the designated hitter option as they move back to National League play, the numbers game becomes a bit more complicated. Chase Headley, Scott Hairston, Tony Gwynn, Will Venable and Blanks have all seen time in the outfield. Headley can play third base to prevent a jam in the outfield, but Kevin Kouzmanoff has been hitting well as of late. "We will get all those guys at-bats," Black said. "There are five guys for four spots, so conceivably they can play four out of five days. We'll look at matchups and health and keep their legs fresh during the hot months coming up."
Daniel Paulling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.