BALTIMORE — About two weeks ago, the San Diego Padres and former West Virginia University infielder Jedd Gyorko went about showing Baltimore and its starting pitcher, Freddy Garcia, how to reveal weaknesses and take full advantage of those flaws.
Gyorko, the rookie starting second baseman of the usually mild-mannered Padres, was one of the offensive lights when San Diego romped through an early-afternoon game two Wednesdays past and dealt the Orioles an 8-4 loss.
The Padres had four runs and nine baserunners off the 36-year-old Garcia in his 3.2 innings of mostly ineffective pitching. The abbreviated two-game series was a sweep for the Padres, who improved to 18-21 in their quest to be a little more than just respectable this season.
Gyroko was a shortstop at WVU. When he was selected in a summer draft of first-year free agents, it was assumed his 5-foot-10, 210-pound body would not be kept at shortstop.
The native of Morgantown and graduate of University High was moved to third base when he began his professional career in a rookie league on the West Coast. As he progressed higher in the Padres’ minor league food chain, Gyorko was also tried at first base and left field.
At his last minor league stop in 2012, he also played a few games at second base.
During this February’s/March’s six weeks of spring training, Gyorko was given a crash course in how to play second base. He spent extra hours learning the footwork on the various ways to turn a double play, how to best make tags on stolen base attempts, how to make barehand plays on slowly hit balls in front of him and the nuances of chasing pop flies where his angles are better than the first baseman.
On Opening Day, he was in the Padres’ lineup batting seventh and stationed at second base. He has been there ever since.
In the second of the two wins over the Orioles, Gyorko was batting sixth because manager Bud Black had two “extra men” in his get-away day lineup.
Gyorko was 3-for-5 and raised his batting average to .263 as the Padres banged out 17 hits.
Garcia was being used because the Orioles have rotation starters Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen on the disabled list.
Former Mountaineer, Gyorko,
The 23-year-old has become a fixture in Black’s lineup. And his consistent offensive contributions and toughness give the mostly-forgotten Padres some realistic hope for the future.