PEORIA, Ariz. - Trying to earn a job with the San Diego Padres, second baseman Jedd Gyorko had three homers and nine RBIs in his first five spring training games.
"Jedd's talent is evident in everything he does," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "He's a quality hitter and has done well defensively. We believe he has a bright future ahead."
Selected by San Diego in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft, Gyorko has a .319 batting average with 62 homers and 255 RBIs in 2 1-2 minor league seasons. He batted .328 with 24 homers and 83 RBIs last year at Triple-A Tucson.
In his first at-bat of spring training, Gyorko hit a grand slam off Seattle's Hector Noesi, a drive well beyond the left-field wall.
"Baseball is a numbers game, but you can't get wrapped up in that," Gyorko said. "Coaches will see if you're trying to pad stats over making the right play or the right decision. I believe quality is the key for making this team. I want to have quality at-bats and make smart, team-first decisions on offense and defense."
Drafted as a third baseman, Gyorko was moved to second last year by San Diego, which has Chase Headley and prospect James Darnell at third.
Gyorko played some second base as a youth and took hundreds of grounders there during the offseason. He's been working with shortstop Everth Cabrera each day on timing and double plays.
"We know about his bat, and he's had a good start to the spring, but we've been really impressed with his defense," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's been steady over there, and has made every play that's come his way."
San Diego hopes Gyorko can develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter. If he's not ready, he'll start the season at Tucson.
"His overall play must be high," Black said. "That encompasses everything, from how he's swinging the bat to how he's fielding his position. He's a confident guy so it probably won't be an issue, but we need to find out whether he's mentally ready for the everyday grind of the big leagues."
Gyorko's confidence remains high.
"You can't play baseball without confidence," Gyorko said. "If you don't, the game will eat you up. It weeds out the weak. You have to be strong mentally in order to survive."