Salazar eager to help any way he can

Salazar eager to help any way he can

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' newest infielder, Oscar Salazar, delivered a swift answer on Monday when asked what position he prefers playing.

"In the lineup," he said, grinning.

After the Padres' need for an infielder became pressing, they acquired Salazar from Baltimore on Sunday in exchange for right-handed pitcher Cla Meredith.

The addition of Salazar helps bolster the Padres' injury-depleted resources at second base. David Eckstein went on the 15-day disabled list on July 6 with a strained right hamstring. And Edgar Gonzalez, who played second in Eckstein's absence, went on the disabled list on Monday after being struck in the head with a pitch on Saturday.

Salazar, 31, has played at first base, third base, shortstop and left field for the Orioles this season.

"We'll have to talk to him a little bit more about his comfort level, but I know he's played just about everywhere in the infield," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He could probably go to short in a pinch. I think he's most comfortable at second or first.

"He'll be used primarily with us as a bat off the bench. You might see him start a game or two."

Salazar is hitting .419 (13-for-31) in 17 appearances for Baltimore this season. He has two home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored.

"[General manager Kevin Towers] and our scouts identified the bat more than anything," Black said. "That's sort of reflected in his overall career numbers and what he's done the last year or two."

Salazar made his Major League debut for Detroit in 2002. He has hit .301 (40-for-133) with four doubles, eight home runs, and 24 RBIs in his 59 big league games.

Salazar, who has never played in the National League, said he hopes he will have more opportunities to play in an everyday role.

"I'm here for the team," he said. "I am here to do my best. I will enjoy any opportunity they give to me."

Salazar joins a growing Venezuelan contingent in the Padres' clubhouse, which includes shortstop Luis Rodriguez, pitcher Edward Mujica and catchers Henry Blanco, Eliezer Alfonzo and Jose Lobaton.

I know that every single one of the guys from Venezuela on our team hugged him," Black said.

Amy Brittain is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.