With Chase Headley and Logan Forsythe opening the season on the disabled list, the San Diego Padres will be mixing-and-matching their infield for the first two to six weeks of the season.
And the major adjustment will fall to 24-year-old rookie Jedd Gyorko, who will move between second base and third base -- depending on the opposing starter -- until Headley returns.
"Knowing Jedd, I don't think it's going to be a problem," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's a baseball player. He wants to play wherever you put him. He's one rookie who I don't really have a problem asking him to move around."
Because Headley was entrenched at third base, the Padres last summer asked Gyorko to start playing second while he was hitting .328 with 24 homers and 83 RBI in 92 games at Triple-A Tucson. Gyorko won the starting job at second this spring with a solid exhibition season both offensively and defensively.
Gyorko admitted to working overtime over the winter preparing to play second. "I got anyone I could find to hit me grounders and practice with me at the bag," he said.
The plan for Gyorko didn't immediately change when Headley fractured the tip of the bone on his left thumb on March 17 while sliding (feet first) into second. Although Headley was projected to miss the first two weeks to the first month of the regular season, the Padres still had Logan Forsythe ready to play at third. Gyorko would stay at second.
But Forsythe will miss the first six weeks of the regular season after being placed on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis. He first suffered the injury March 7, but wasn't totally ruled out until he unsuccessfully tried to play during the final week of the exhibition season. He was forced to come out after three innings March 24.
Forsythe returned to San Diego for a re-examination of the foot on March 25 and was placed in a protective boot for at least three weeks. "And it will be at least three weeks after that before he can play again," Back said.
With third baseman-left fielder James Darnell also opening the season on the disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle, the Padres were scrambling.
Left-handed-hitting Alexi Amarista will make most of the starts against right-handed pitchers while playing second. Right-handed-hitting Cody Ransom will start at third against left-handed starters. Gyorko will move back-and-forth between the two spots.
"I don't care," Gyorko said. "I'm ready to play second. I've felt really good there. But I've been a third baseman for most of my professional career. I just want to play. Give me a glove and a bat and I'm happy."