SAN DIEGO -- Pinch-hitter extraordinaire Mark Kotsay did exactly what his teammates have come to expect from him in Friday night's win over the Rockies: he came in to hit for the pitcher in the eighth, got a hit and sparked a rally.
But while his teammates may not have been surprised by the result, they were visibly amused by the way he did it: the 36-year-old squared late on an offering from Rockies' reliever Mike Ekstrom and laid a surprise bunt in front of third baseman Jordan Pacheco.
Kotsay chugged down the first-base line, narrowly beating the throw, and garnering some jeers and cheers from his teammates before being immediately pinch-run for by Cameron Maybin.
The play and Kotsay's prompt exit afterward revealed the step or two lost by the veteran after over a decade and a half of the daily baseball grind. But it also displayed the wisdom gained in that tenure, the component of Kotsay's game that has helped him to endure as a valuable component of each of the seven teams with which he's played.
"This is about winning baseball games and being a baseball player," Kotsay said of his decision to bunt despite being known more for line drives and home runs. "To think the game through and be ready for those situations and be able to execute them is something I take pride in."
It's said that good hitters are willing to take what the defense gives them, but no one could blame Kotsay, coming to the plate with no one out, no one on -- and 1,741 hits under his belt -- if he hadn't given a second thought to where Pacheco was playing. But the seasoned vet took a look, took a shot, and ended up setting up a crucial insurance run.
"I look for that any time I lead off an inning or the circumstances in the game call for it, just based on the time or score in the game," Kotsay said. "You smell a hit, you smell a hit."
Headley's homer to right field one of few at Petco
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't so noteworthy that Padres third baseman Chase Headley hit a home run in Friday's victory over the Rockies, though where the ball landed rated as somewhat unusual.
Headley hit a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning that punctuated the Padres' 9-5 win, a ball that carried just past the porch area in right field.
Headley, a switch-hitter, has hit 18 of his 47 career home runs at Petco Park, though most haven't been pulled from the left-hand side of the batters' box.
"I think that's only the second one I've hit out there," Headley said Saturday. "I bet in my five years here, I've seen less than 15 hit there and maybe less than 10."
While there's a porch area in right field that sits just beyond the 322-mark, it's not an area where a lot of hitters get home runs. Most at spacious Petco Park, are hit to left field (336 feet down the line) as well as left-center field or center field.
So why haven't there been more home runs down the right-field line?
"I can't think of many," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Maybe you look at a right-handed pitcher and what they're trying to do to left-handed hitters ... especially in this ballpark. The sinker comes into play here and maybe they try to throw pitches that might get a ball down the line."
Off the top of his head, Black said he can remember more right-handed hitters hitting a ball into the porch area in right field that jettisons out from the wall. Marcus Giles hit one there. And so did Yorvit Torrealba and, more recently, Buster Posey of the Giants.
Even former Padres All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a left-handed hitter, hit more of his balls to left field instead of pulling it to right field.
Grandal hopes to start drawing more walks
SAN DIEGO -- For all the things rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal has done at the plate and behind it since his promotion from Triple-A on June 30, there's one thing he'd like to start doing more of -- drawing walks.
Coming in to Saturday night's game, scheduled to be his 15th Major League start, Grandal had not yet worked a base on balls in 59 at-bats.
He had 37 in 231 plate appearances at Triple-A Tucson this season. In 2011, his first full professional season, Grandal had 59 walks in 441 plate appearances while in the Reds' system.
"Oh yeah, I'm conscious of it," Grandal said of the statistic. "I'm not worried about it. All I'm trying to do is make contact, that's something that's going to come with time."
That contact-first approach represents a shift from Grandal's Minor League mentality, a difference dictated by the high quality of the hurlers he's facing in the Majors.
"Guys make better pitches here, so if it's around the zone, I'm hitting it. I'm looking to hit early in the count," Grandal said. "In the Minor Leagues, I was so confident that I was either going to get a hit or get a walk that I was a little bit more patient."
The aggressiveness has worked for Grandal so far, as the switch-hitter is boasting a .288 average, five homers, and 10 RBIs in 17 games. But the 23-year-old believes that the return of that patience that made him such a menace in the Minors will mean he's really settled in.
"You see a lot of guys that come up don't have a lot of walks until their second or third year -- I think it's a common thing," Grandal said. "So if you see me start to walk a few times, you know I'm good."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.