Padres find a No. 3 hitter in Hudson

Padres find a No. 3 hitter in Hudson

Padres find a No. 3 hitter in Hudson
PEORIA, Ariz. -- He might not fit the traditional blueprint of an ideal No. 3 hitter, but it appears as if new second baseman Orlando Hudson could get most of his at-bats in that spot for the Padres this season.

"I like the switch-hitting capability, I like the veteran presence in that spot. And with our personnel ... it gives us three guys who can get on base to set up the guys hitting fourth, fifth and sixth," Padres manager Bud Black said.

Hudson, who signed a two-year deal in December, has spent most of the spring hitting in the No. 3 hole. During the Padres' 14-4 victory over the Cubs on Saturday, Hudson had two doubles, drove in a run, and scored a run.

Overall, he's hitting .323 this spring, with a .382 on-base percentage in his first 31 at-bats.

Black envisions Hudson hitting behind leadoff hitter Will Venable and No. 2 hitter Jason Bartlett -- who can handle the bat, and will be asked to bunt and move runners over.

"I think with him there, we have a lot of different options," Black said. "It puts two guys at the top of the order who I think are going to be productive on the basepaths. We can do some things with those guys, like hit-and-run."

Hudson, who has spent most of his Major League career hitting second in the lineup, has extensive experience hitting third.

Hudson has 860 career at-bats in that spot, and has fared better -- .294 batting average and a .360 on-base percentage -- in the three-hole than his overall career line (.280 average and .346 on-base percentage).

"It's a little different [than hitting second], but you've just got to get your mindset right," Hudson said on Sunday. "In the two-hole, you've got to get guys over, hit-and-run, and even bunt a bit.

"Either way, no matter where you hit, you've still got to have quality at-bats."

Of course, the Padres got plenty of those from the player Hudson will be replacing in that spot -- All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was traded to the Red Sox in the offseason.

Gonzalez accounted for 27 of the 31 home runs and 88 of the 108 RBIs the Padres got out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup a year ago.

"I did it in Arizona and almost the whole time I was in Los Angeles," said Hudson, who got all of his at-bats with the Twins last season hitting second. "I just want to contribute wherever the manager puts me."