Padres first baseman Ryan Klesko probably will begin the season on the 15-day DL with an ailing left shoulder, and manager Bruce Bochy said Adrian Gonzalez will replace him in the Opening Day lineup Monday at Petco Park, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Klesko for his part, expects to be back soon and the move could be backdated a bit to get him in the lineup as soon as April 10. But this is likely to be an underlying theme this season, as it’s been for the past three. He managed 443 at-bats last year, his most since 2002, but the injuries are mounting and a quick look at the annual stats reveals the age-slide is gaining momentum and his time may be upon us in short order. Much of this analysis is pronounced, but less truthful as allowances for the change to the home park also degrade the numbers. At age 34, it appears Klesko’s injury history and body type have caught up with him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gonzalez get at least 300-350 at bats in 2006. It’s a contract year for Rhino, but I suspect he won’t have the health to give it all for one final payoff, and even if he did, the expenditure would seem foolish against the recent trend toward competence in the free agent market. Not that there won’t be some we question annually.
Gonzalez has gone 10-for-25 this spring with 20 total bases. What’s that? Gonzalez, the player acquired from Texas for Adam Eaton, originally for Ugueth Urbina from Florida, is no longer a prospect? Well, he’s still 23 years old having appeared in a total of 59 major league games in two seasons against 207 minor leagues games through same period. And given he’s never had an opportunity like the one presented to him with the Padres, a bench player backing up an aging major leaguer with a long history of health problems, I’m going with prospect. Ok, lets settle on “Tweener”
I like Gonzalez in fantasy this year as a $1 dollar reserve stash in NL-league only, particularly if you get stuck with Klesko. And anyone whose played the deep leagues is aware somebody will. I don’t think the former first rounder will develop big power. particularly in the Padres ball park, but that might actually be a good thing. There is plenty of spaces in the large dimensions of Petco, and he could become one of their better hitters, able to make contact and drive the ball into the gaps without becoming pull conscious.
The Padres former top first base prospect, Tag Bozied, has suffered through a couple of significant injuries, and I’m not sure where he sits in the present, needing some healthy time getting his swing back. The team also has previously mentioned Water Young set for Triple-A Portland and Michael Johnson, a Clemson product who had a huge bounce-back year in 2005 as an overage 25-year-old at high Single-A Lake Ellsinore. He also made a quality showing in the Arizona Fall League. He’s set to join Double-A Mobile but could move up and onto the radar if he can replicate last season’s .984 OPS in 73 games after recovering from hamate bone surgery in May.