The San Diego Padres tore up their middle infield Thursday.
First, they unconditionally released second baseman Orlando Hudson and called up Alexi Amarista from Triple-A Tucson to replace Hudson.
Then they placed shortstop Jason Bartlett on the 15-day disabled list with the strong possibility that he, too, had played his last game as a Padre and replaced him with Everth Cabrera, who was also promoted from Tucson.
Cabrera and Amarista were immediately put into the lineup. However, their presence, might signal more auditions. The Padres will likely look at candidates Logan Forsythe and Jedd Gyorko before the season ends.
Forsythe, who had surgery March 9 to remove the fractured sesamoid bone from his left foot, started his rehab assignment with Tucson on Tuesday night. Gyorko was promoted from Double-A San Antonio on Thursday morning to replace Amarista. And high 2011 draft picks Cory Spangenberg (second base) and Jace Peterson (shortstop) are farther down the road.
"We felt it was time to make a change," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "It wasn't working out here for Hudson. The middle infield performance wasn't what we needed. This was not motivated by money."
In fact, if Hudson and Bartlett have both played their last games as Padres, the club will owe them around $11.6 million in 2012 salaries plus buyouts on 2013 options. Hudson is owed approximately $5.85 million. Bartlett is owed approximately $5.75 million.
The 34-year-old Hudson (free agent) and the 32-year-old Bartlett (trade) joined the Padres in December 2010 in separate deals. Each received a two-year contract with a club option for 2013. Bartlett's 2013 contract also vested after 441 plate appearances this season.
Although Bartlett is on the disabled list with a cartilage issue behind his right kneecap, Byrnes said, "Jason knows there is no guarantee of a job awaiting him if he is healthy."
Between them this season, Hudson, Bartlett and backup Andy Parrino --the only three players to appear at second or short through 38 games -- were hitting a combined .177 with two homers and 16 RBI in 38 games. They had a .257 on-base percentage with 71 strikeouts in 271 at-bats.
Cabrera, 25, was hitting .333 with nine doubles, one triple, 15 RBI and 27 runs scored for Tucson.
Amarista, who is listed at 5 feet 7 and 150 pounds but looks closer to 5-5, was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels along with Single-A right-hander Donn Roach in exchange for right-hander Ernesto Frieri on May 3. Amarista, 23, hit .278 in 29 Pacific Coast League games between Salt Lake and Tucson.