MARYVALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jedd Gyorko entered spring training with his sights set on winning the San Diego Padres’ second base job. Four days into spring training games, lots of eyes are suddenly on him.
The 2010 second-round pick out of West Virginia hit his second homer of the spring, a two-run shot that helped the Padres beat a Milwaukee Brewers split-squad 7-1 Monday.
Gyorko, who hit .311 with 30 home runs in the minors last season, has eight RBIs.
The 24-year-old played third base for the Mountaineers and in the minors but he has experience at second base, and he’s enjoying the transition.
“I’m having fun at second and the key is just getting better each day,” Gyorko said. “It helps that we have an extended spring this year and I get to play a ton of games to get work in.”
He’s been very comfortable at the plate. He hit a 410-foot homer to center field off Milwaukee starter Hiram Burgos Monday and a grand slam against Seattle on Saturday.
“The game is all about scoring and my offense has to be there. I know that’s my ticket. I’ve gotten a couple of pitches I can handle and credit the other guys for getting on,” he said.
San Diego manager Bud Black likes the versatility of having guys like Gyorko, Logan Forsythe and Everth Cabrerra in the infield. Forsythe played third Monday and will play shortstop later this week. And finding a way to get Gyorko’s bat in the lineup plays into that.
“His transition has been pretty seamless so far, he worked a lot back home in West Virginia and he has second base in his past,” Black said. “He has great self-confidence in his ability to play the game, both offense and defense. Some of the things you are seeing here early are some of the things our minor league people have told us all along. His bat comes highly regarded.”
Catcher Eddy Rodriguez added a three-run homer in the ninth inning for the Padres, and Kyle Blanks and Mark Kotsay each added two of San Diego’s 10 hits.
In a possible World Baseball Classic pitching matchup, Burgos, who will be pitching for Puerto Rico, opposed San Diego starter Edinson Volquez from the Dominican Republic.
Burgos, the Brewers minor league pitcher of the year for 2012 after going 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA, advancing from Class-A to Triple-A, allowed three hits in 2 2-3 innings with two strikeouts.
“I pounded the strike zone, I was working all my pitches and I felt like my mechanics were good,” Burgos. “I threw a fastball (to Gyorko) that got too much of the plate. But my teammates made some good defensive plays behind me and I felt good about it overall.”
Volquez allowed two hits and struck out four in his two scoreless innings.
“The weather (57 degrees) made it hard to get loose and it took me awhile to get comfortable,” said Volquez, who needed 22 pitches to get through two innings and will make one more start before joining his WBC team in Florida next weekend. “I’m ready to go and very excited about the opportunity to play for my country.”
Carlos Gomez and Jeff Bianchi each had two hits for Milwaukee. Ryan Braun had a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
NOTES: Burgos got back-to-back strong defensive plays to start the second inning. Shortstop Donnie Murphy went full-out to his left to rob San Diego’s Travis Buck of a base hit before Gomez made a long run and grab of Nick Hundley’s drive to the wall in center field. . The game drew only 1,191 fans on a brisk afternoon, but temperatures are expected to reach 80 degrees by the weekend.