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Gyorko tackling the challenge of position transition

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Footwork and fundamentals. That's the primary area of focus for Jedd Gyorko this spring as the former third baseman attempts a permanent transition to second base. Gyorko, ranked as the Padres' top prospect by MLB.com, has been putting in the time to make himself a solid defender.

"I've just got to stay consistent and keep doing what I've done throughout the process," said Gyorko. "I'm getting more comfortable at second base as each day goes by. We've got some of the best coaches in baseball to teach me and guide me as I make the transition. It's going well."

Gyorko, a former second-round Draft pick, has the type of bat that will play anywhere. The 24-year-old is a career .319 hitter with a .385 on-base percentage in the Minor Leagues, and he proved that he could perform at the highest levels last season by batting .328 with a .380 OBP for Triple-A Tucson.

The second-base project began in earnest for Gyorko last season, when he played 17 games at the keystone for Double-A San Antonio and 30 more for Tucson. Things have gotten more intense this spring, and Gyorko is trying to figure out all the little aspects of playing a new position.

"You've just got to get used to the ball coming off the bat from a different angle and being around the base more," he said. "It's a slight adjustment. I've played middle infield before, so I'm comfortable over there. It's just really getting back into the groove and getting up to speed with the game. The game's a little faster up here, and you've just got to make the adjustments as the time goes on."

Gyorko, in his second go-round at the big league camp for Spring Training, plenty of time to make those adjustments. The youngster said that his first spring with the Padres was a blur of names and introductions, and he's been able to settle in and get comfortable this time around.

The Padres have All-Star Chase Headley at Gyorko's former position, and incumbent Logan Forsythe lines up at second base for San Diego. Gyorko might be able to make the leap quickly if he can get his defense under control, and manager Bud Black said he's making progress.

"He's handled second base very nicely. He's making all the plays [and] turning a real good double play. Hands are good. Feet are good," said Black. "He's done some nice things. You can tell this guy is a baseball player. He's calm on the field. He's got good instincts. He's comfortable on the diamond and he's comfortable in a big league environment. He's a self-assured, self-confident young guy."

Gyorko, who doubled on Saturday, doesn't want to improve on defense only to slide on offense. He's taking the time to master the intricacies of the game on both sides of the ball, and he knows his Minor League production won't translate to the Majors unless he works hard at it.

"It's the same things. Adjustments," he said. "You've got to get used to the pitchers. The scouting reports are going to get better, and they're going to try to find a weakness on you. And once they do, they're going to exploit it. You have to keep working and make adjustments to stay ahead."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ,"spring_training" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ,"spring_training" ] }