Future may have to wait

Adrian Gonzalez was viewed as a player that would have a spot on the roster coming into spring but with the bench filling up quickly, the future of first base may have to wait.

The Padres see Adrian Gonzalez as their first baseman of the future, according to general manager Kevin Towers.

But does the former first overall draft pick have a shot at making the club's Opening Day roster? Or will he start the season with Triple-A Portland?

Over the winter, the Padres said Gonzalez would see a lot of action as a late-game defensive replacement for veteran Ryan Klesko, who is in the last year of his contract with the Padres.

Gonzalez, who turns 24 on May 8, was fine with that idea. "As long as I get an at-bat a game, I'm going to be fine," Gonzalez said.

But the fact that rookie Josh Barfield has won the starting job at second could be working against Gonzalez in the short-run. It also didn't help him that he missed a lot of spring training at-bats while with Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

With Barfield at second, Mark Bellhorn has clinched a utility spot on the Opening Day roster. Bellhorn can play first. So can another utility infielder, Geoff Blum. And both Bellhorn and Blum are switch hitters. Gonzalez is a left-handed hitter, the same as Klesko.

"I've done everything I can do at Triple-A," said Gonzalez, a native of San Diego County who was selected first overall by the Marlins in 2000.

But the Padres still have an option on Gonzalez, who is a great fielder but an unproven hitter (.229) at the major league level. The Padres could exercise that option.


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