SAN DIEGO -- Say one thing for Padres ace Andrew Cashner: He's pretty good at deflecting praise. Following his win over the Rockies on Wednesday, the big right-hander went out of his way to compliment outfielder Chris Denorfia as "the most underrated player in the National League."
There is probably a case to be made in that respect, certainly one for Denorfia being as versatile a player as there is in the league.
"He does a great job anywhere we put him," manager Bud Black said. "He's very dependable in whatever situation we thrust him into. Defensive substitution, pinch-runner, pinch-hitter, outfielder.
"We put a lot on Deno in any situation, and we feel comfortable with how he handles it."
One situation in which Denorfia, in his fifth season with the Padres, has excelled is against left-handed pitching. He's hitting .315 against lefties since the start of the 2011 season, the best average in the NL during that time (minimum 400 at-bats).
As for Cashner's "underrated" praise, Denorfia made a point to dwell on the team concept. "It sounds to me like we're starting to pull for each other," he said. "That's what we've been stressing, especially in this division with these payrolls. We're going to have to stick together."
The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.
"He's an integral part of what we as San Diego Padres have to do to win," Black said. "Move around, mix and match."
Scott Miller is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less