Filling In With Blanks

Padres ready to give Blanks a full-time job





SAN DIEGO—Padres manager Bud Black saw enough of Kyle Blanks to know he wanted the 6-foot-6, 285-pound power package to be in the starting lineup in left field every day in 2010.

To make that happen, either left fielder Chase Headley or third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff had to go.

So on Jan. 16, Kouzmanoff was shipped to the Athletics for veteran outfielder Scott Hairston and rookie outfielder Aaron Cunningham.

Both are righthanded hitters, something Black wanted to add to balance lefthanded hitting outfielders Anthony Gwynn and Will Venable.

With Kouzmanoff gone, Headley will move from left field to third base—his natural position. And Blanks, 23, will get a shot to be an everyday player.

"I liked, we all liked, what we saw of Kyle last season," Black said. "He flashed some power. He showed some speed. And he showed us he was an athlete."
Blanks hit .250/.355/.514 in 148 at-bats. Several of his home runs were of the monster variety, one was a walkoff, another was an inside-the-park job.

A first baseman his entire career, Blanks was switched to the outfield at the start of the 2009 season. A 42nd-round pick out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC in 2004, Blanks started 21 games for the Padres in right field, 13 in left and four at first base before missing the last month of the season with a painful foot injury.

FATHER FIGURES

• Infielder Eric Sogard was sent to the A's as part of the trade that brought Hairston and Cunningham to the Padres. A second-round pick out of Arizona State in 2007, Sogard hit .293/.370/.400 last season at Double-A San Antonio. He was a favorite of Grady Fuson, the Padres' former director of scouting and player development.

• Randy Smith was named the organization's director of player development. Smith was the organization's director of international scouting and a major league scout.