WASHINGTON -- Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera's 44 steals led the National League in 2012. Last season, he was pacing the NL in steals (37) when he was suspended for the final 50 games of the season.
So far this season, Cabrera has been grounded, despite leading the team with 30 hits and a .300 batting average. Going into Saturday's game against the Nationals, he had attempted five stolen bases and had two successful attempts.
So what gives?
Cabrera tweaked his right knee in an April 14 game against the Rockies, when he robbed Troy Tulowitzki of a hit with a leaping grab. He injured the knee when he quickly got to his feet, planted and tried to double a runner off first base.
He missed one game before returning on April 16, attempting one steal since then, an attempt that was unsuccessful.
"His knee has been a little bit of a factor," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Some of it has been game situations, too."
Black has also noticed that opposing pitchers have been paying more attention to Cabrera -- just not in terms of throwing over to first base a lot, but by other means.
"A lot of it has been opposing pitchers really making a statement, being quick to the plate," Black said.
Cabrera is off to a quick start this season. He got out of the gate quickly in 2013, too, with 27 hits in April on his way to being named to the NL All-Star team. He still has five games to increase his hit total in '14 -- and possibly to add to his stolen bases.
"Last year sort of put him on the map, as far as recognition," Black said. "He's off to a nice start this year. I think it takes time for most players to get national recognition. I think he's started to get that."
Peterson makes first start at third base
WASHINGTON -- Rookie infielder Jace Peterson saw a few more pitches on Saturday than he did in his Major League debut on Friday.
Peterson saw exactly two pitches in his debut in the Padres' 11-1 loss to the Nationals. He singled on the first pitch he saw from Nationals' starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg in the seventh inning, before he flew out to center field in the ninth inning.
"I was looking for a fastball to hit, and it happened to be on the first pitch," Peterson said after Friday's game.
Peterson, who was added to the 25-man roster from Double-A San Antonio before Friday's game, got his first Major League start at third base on Saturday against the Nationals.
Peterson -- who is filling in for Chase Headley, who landed on the disabled list with a strained right calf -- is the fourth player in franchise history to get his first Major League hit on the first pitch he saw. The others were Sean Kazmar (Aug. 13, 2008), Craig Stansberry (Aug. 25, 2007) and Humberto Quintero (Sept. 3, 2003).
Peterson went 0-for-3 in Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Nationals.
Smith's strained groin showing improvement
WASHINGTON -- There was positive news on Saturday morning about Seth Smith's strained right groin.
San Diego manager Bud Black said that Smith would try to take some swings in the batting cage before Saturday's game against the Nationals. Black also said the outfielder might do some light jogging on Sunday.
According to Black, there's a chance Smith -- who sustained the injury in Thursday's victory -- could be ready to get back in the starting lineup during a series in San Francisco that begins on Monday.
Smith suffered the strain chasing a Jose Lobaton double down the left-field line in the 10th inning. The Padres went on to win the game, 4-3, in 12 innings.
"When I was running toward the left-field line, I felt it tweak on me," Smith said. "I've had something similar before in Colorado, where I think I missed three games."
The Padres played their second game two men short on the bench on Saturday, as the reserves were Alexi Amarista, Nick Hundley, and Yasmani Grandal.