Positional Overview

Still in need of another batter in the lineup and a bat off the bench, the hitting gets most of the accolades and print. This year may be no different for the San Diego Padres as they are open to trades and may look to snare a fish in free agency. What positions are really open for debate?

Covering the Plate:

????? – to be determined. The spot is open and there is budding ideas on just who will take this spot over. Right now, fans will have to wait for the World Series to end before speculation becomes reality.

Wiki Gonzalez (.200-0-10) -- Optioned May 17 to Triple-A Portland and never returned this season. Gary Bennett (.238-2-42 with 3.81 ERA by pitchers while he was catching) had solid season and wanted to return to Padres even if it meant being the No. 2. But the Padres owe Gonzalez $1.2 million next year and Bennett is history. He gets the job by default, which won't sit well with some teammates. Humberto Quintero and Miguel Ojeda will be waiting in the wings if Gonzalez fails again.

The Diamond:

These spots don't figure to change much and the bright future on the left side of the infield bears watching. Look for Burroughs to take Greene under his wing and help make the transition into next season easier.

1B Phil Nevin (.279-13-46 in 226 at-bats) -- Missed first 102 games off 2003 to have dislocated shoulder surgically repaired. Also plagued by left elbow injury and broken left arm in 2002. Much stronger at first than in outfield ... and looks better at first than Ryan Klesko. Numbers in short season project to 36 homers and 128 RBI. Contracted through 2006. Will hit cleanup and have on base machine Brian Giles hitting in front of him.

2B Mark Loretta (.314-13-72) -- Signed last winter as free agent for $1.25 million, wowed everyone with play. Will be Padres' MVP for 2003. Signed new four-year contract before the end of the season. Had five hitting streaks of 10 or more games. Finished with 185 hits to break by one club record for second basemen, set by Roberto Alomar in 1989. Also stronger in the field than Padres expected although range is limited. "He's much better than I had any idea he was," said Padres manager Bruce Bochy. Will hit second in the order.

SS Khalil Greene (.215-2-6) -- Padres loved his defensive play after September call-up and his bat showed punch, although he struck out at least once in each of his last 13 games and had 19 strikeouts in 65 at-bats. 23-year-old was first position player from 2002 draft (the 13th player taken in the first round) to reach the majors. Advanced from Double-A Mobile (.275-3-20) to Triple-A Portland (.288-10-47 in 76 games) to Padres in first full pro season. Will hit eighth in order.

3B Sean Burroughs (.286-7-58) -- Hit .308 with .384 on-base percentage after moving into the leadoff slot on Aug. 22. Average did drop 14 points during last month of the season. Padres fans have fallen in love with his attitude. Finished with highest fielding percentage for a third baseman in Padres history. Remember, he turned 23 on Sept. 12, 2003.

2B/SS/3B Ramon Vazquez (.261-3-30) -- Was the Padres' starting shortstop until Greene was called up in September. Padres loved him at 2B last year. Has played third in the minors and winter ball. Not the greatest range at short. Was Padres' leadoff man before Burroughs moved into spot (had .342 on-base percentage).

1B-3B Dave Hansen (.244-2-15) -- Contracted through 2004. Was signed last winter to be Padres' primary pinch-hitter but was terribly disappointing 9-for-55 with three RBI in that role.

Playing in space:

How much space is the question? The team will begin to find out in December when they start shagging fly balls in the outfield at the new Petco Park. It could be a nightmare out there and force some changes.

LF Brian Giles (.299-20-88) -- Presently listed in left but could be moved to right once Padres survey the size of their new outfield at Petco Park. Hit .298 in 29 games with the Padres (after arriving from Pittsburgh in trade for LHP Oliver Perez, OF Jayson Bay and LHP Cory Stewart) with four homers and 18 RBI. Had .427 on-base percentage and will hit third ahead of Nevin and Klesko.

CF Mark Kotsay (.266-7-38) -- Had extremely disappointing season and might be traded despite contract through 2006. Despite opening the season in the No. 3 slot in the order, production was far off 2002's .292-17-61. Hit only .221 with runners in scoring position. But also played much of season with back problems that once forced him onto the disabled list for 17 games.

RF Ryan Klesko (.252-21-67) -- Season ended on Aug. 31 for shoulder surgery. Had only two homers and 14 RBI after the All-Star break as shoulder impingement robbed him of his power. Has been told that Nevin will remain at first. Left field at the new Petco Park could be an easier fit.

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