Healthy again, Spangenberg aims to reclaim job

A torn left quad wiped out nearly his entire 2016

Healthy again, Spangenberg aims to reclaim job

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It had been a while since Cory Spangenberg found himself in a batters' box during a game. He wasn't about to lay off the first pitch.

"I was going to swing if it was anywhere close," said Spangenberg, who missed 5 1/2 months last season with a torn left quad. "I was ready to go and get it out of the way."

The speedy second baseman lined a first-pitch single to right field on Saturday and promptly swiped second base two pitches later. An inning prior, he ranged to his right to field a tricky ground ball.

Essentially, it took all of two frames for Spangenberg to be fully tested.

"I was definitely anxious at first," Spangenberg said. "But once I got that first grounder, once I got that first at-bat, it was just like back to normal ... like I never missed anything."

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Spangenberg's return to the field was a sight for sore Padres' eyes. He tore his quad while legging out an infield single in April and was initially expected to return midseason. But the recovery process stalled twice, and Spangenberg didn't reach full health until November

"Smoke a single through the hole, steal a base -- that's what we were looking forward to last year," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "We didn't get that after a very short period of time. He's going to be a big part of what we do going forward, and we're excited to see him play well on the first day."

Spangenberg entered camp last spring with the starting second base job to himself. Following an excellent second half in 2015, he figured to serve as one of the Padres' primary table-setters in '16.

Spangenberg's quad injury

While he was injured, Ryan Schimpf burst onto the scene. Now, the two are locked in arguably the tightest positional battle in camp this spring. (Prospect Carlos Asuaje is in the mix as well.)

When third baseman Yangervis Solarte heads to the World Baseball Classic next month, both Spangenberg and Schimpf will get reps at third base, where they could potentially serve as backups. Until then, the Padres are merely making certain that Spangenberg is comfortable back at second.

He claims he already is, and he's not shying away from the competition there.

"It's fun -- Schimpf and Asuaje are great players," Spangenberg said. "I think everyone in this room loves competition. Otherwise, they wouldn't be here."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.