The San Diego Padres will call up prized prospect Anthony Rizzo on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation said, a move that they hope will give a boost to the offensively challenged club.
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The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the promotion hasn’t been made official. Rizzo, a slugging first baseman who’s been tearing up the Pacific Coast League with Triple-A Tucson, flew to San Diego on Wednesday to have his left thumb examined by a specialist in the last step before joining the big league squad.
Fans have been clamoring for the last-place Padres to call up the 21-year-old Rizzo, who had never played above Double-A until he started this season with Tucson.
Rizzo is one of two prized prospects acquired by the Padres when they traded three-time All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox in December in a five-player deal. He batted .365 with a .715 slugging percentage, .444 on-base percentage, 16 homers and 63 RBIs at Tucson.
The other top prospect obtained by the Padres in the deal is right-hander Casey Kelly, who’s with Double-A San Antonio.
The Padres have struggled all season, particularly at home. They were 28-34 and last in the NL West going into Wednesday’s game against Colorado.
Rizzo is expected to be in the starting lineup against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night. It’ll be the second time this homestand that the Padres have faced another last-place team.
After trading Gonzalez, the Padres signed Brad Hawpe to play first base even though he’d only played a handful of games there during his big league career. He was a first baseman in the minors but moved to the outfield when he made his big league debut with Colorado because Todd Helton was playing first for the Rockies.
Hawpe was due to make his third straight start in right field on Wednesday.
The Padres play at Boston June 20-22.
Rizzo injured his left thumb May 31 when he collided with an umpire. He sat out the following two games, played three games and then sat out Monday and Tuesday. He had an MRI exam on Tuesday. The Padres wanted to have him checked by a specialist before bringing him up.