Margot's exploits in center stir memories of McReynolds, Grubb

His 2017 season arguably best ever by Padres rookie center fielder

Margot's exploits in center stir memories of McReynolds, Grubb

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Even before Manuel Margot hit two home runs Friday night at Dodger Stadium, it was noted that he is the first Padres rookie center fielder to hit 10 home runs in a season.

True.

But that declaration brought to mind Kevin McReynolds and the politics of baseball nearly 3 ½ decades ago.

McReynolds was the Padres' first pick in the 1981 draft and the sixth overall pick out of the University of Arkansas. That was the same draft that Tony Gwynn was a third round pick.

Shortly after McReynolds reached the Major Leagues in June of 1983, it was suggested by some club officials that if McReynolds spent more time in the minors, he'd be a prime Rookie of the Year candidate in 1984.

Manager Dick Williams, of course, would have none of the discussion. McReynolds went 10 at-bats over the limit late in the 1983 season and was ineligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 1984 when he hit .278 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs as a key member of the Padres National League champions.

So, yes, Margot is the first rookie center fielder to ever hit 10 home runs for the Padres.

But exactly how many rookies have played regularly in center for the Padres?

By my count, since McReynolds doesn't qualify by the thinnest of margins, Margot is the fourth.

Clarence "Cito" Gaston was the rookie center fielder on the original Padres in 1969. He hit .230 with two homers and 28 RBIs. The following season, Gaston would become the first Padres regular to hit over .300 (.318) for a full season - a mark that stood as the club record until Tony Gwynn came along.

Johnny Grubb hit. 311 with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 113 games (389 at-bats) as a rookie in 1973.

Stan Jefferson hit .230 with eight homers and 29 RBIs as a rookie center fielder in 1987.

And now there's Margot, who is hitting .272 with 12 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 30 RBIs with 46 games to go. Plus, there's defense. Margot is easily the best defensive center fielder among the four rookies who regularly played the position.

NOTEWORTHY:

• Going into Saturday night, the Dodgers are an incredible 46-9 since June 7. The Padres are 2-2 against the Dodgers during that run.

• Book-ending Brad Hand's run of 24 straight scoreless innings were his worst two outings of the season - a pair of games in which he allowed a total of seven runs on seven hits and a walk in a total of 1 2/3 innings. Four of the six home runs - and seven of the 15 earned runs - he allowed this season came in those two outings. On June 10, he allowed four runs and two homers at Petco Park against Kansas City. Then came the run of 24 straight scoreless innings that ended Thursday in Cincinnati, when Hand gave up two home runs - including a grand slam - and was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

• LF Jose Pirela is 9-for-17 with two doubles, three home runs, five RBIs and six runs scored in a five-game hitting streak. This is his fourth hitting streak of five or more games since he joined the Padres from Triple-A El Paso on June 6.

• INF Yangervis Solarte is 11-for-27 with a double, two homers, four RBIs and four runs scored while hitting safely in each of his six starts.

• LHP Jose Torres, who got credit for Friday night's win in Los Angeles, is tied for second among the Padres with six wins.