NEW YORK -- Besides a recent two-game scuffle, outfielder Seth Smith has been everything the Padres hoped for, and then some.
Staying with the team after Spring Training, Smith was originally intended to be a strong left-handed bat off the bench, who would occasionally get a few starts. But after facing a lot of righties early on in the year, and benefiting from early injuries to Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin, Smith has earned a regular spot in the lineup.
"He's done a nice job from game one, when he hit the homer off Brian Wilson to tie the game off the bench in a pinch-hitting role," said manager Bud Black. "There was a period of time where we only saw a couple lefties as the season went on, so he kept playing. His average for the very first time just dipped below .300 here lately. I don't want to say it's a surprise, because I saw this guy in Colorado, saw this guy do some good things in Oakland. Of all the guys on offense, he's held his end of the bargain."
San Diego's struggles offensively aren't news these days. They rank last in runs (202), average (.215), on-base percentage (.274) and slugging (.343) coming into Saturday's game.
But Smith has helped the majority of all of those numbers. He's hitting .290 with a .904 OPS clip, slugging six home runs, two within the last week. It's all the more impressive considering he changed his stance at the plate in Spring Training, standing more upright in the box
"That's the thing, trusting and going with it," said Black. "It helped him on the high fastball, helped him on elevated pitches, you see the ball better, there's a little less movement. To have that confidence that it's going to work and stay with it is huge.
"Again, he has to truly believe he can continue to do the kind of work that he's done. He's above his career average [.267] and he's doing great work. He's been a guy that's obviously been in the middle part of our order all year and doing his part to help our team.
Padres place reliever Patton on disabled list
NEW YORK -- Instead of having to make a difficult decision about who to demote Saturday, Padres manager Bud Black was handed difficult news.
Lefty reliever Troy Patton was placed on the 15-day DL early Saturday morning after he had experienced shoulder pain severe enough to not be able to throw.
"It became un-pitchable yesterday," said Patton. "It came to a point where it was sore enough to say something."
Patton had been experiencing soreness for a few days, but nothing that Black through was out of the ordinary.
"I know that he'd indicated to the trainers that he had been a little sore, but all pitchers are sore," said Black. "After the first day of Spring Training, all pitchers are sore.
"It got to the point last night after the game, his shoulder is extremely weak. We felt from a medical standpoint that he wasn't going to bounce back just in a handful of days. Instead of risking that as far as time frame in trying to keep a guy active, we had to make a roster move, so it made sense to put Troy on to make sure his shoulder situation gets cleared up."
If no injuries had occurred, reliever Kevin Quackenbush likely would have been the candidate to be sent down as he's done multiple times already this season. Before allowing two runs Friday night, Quackenbush hadn't allowed a run since May 26, making an impressive bid to stay with the club longer than usual.
"He's pitched well," said Black. "We had to make a decision on someone to make some sort of move to get Jesse [Hahn] on the active roster. As far as it relates to Quack, he's pitched well enough on stay on the team. Hopefully he continues his performance. Last night a little tough with the three batters he faced. Overall his work has been very solid since he's arrived."
Like Quackenbush, Patton has also had a recent string of success in June. In six appearances this month, he hasn't allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and striking out seven.
"I wouldn't attribute it to my work load at all," Patton said of his injury. "I don't know what I could attribute it to, but that's the way I always pitch. Bullpen guys don't know when they're pitching. I could throw anytime and in the last three years [in Baltimore] that hadn't affected me, so I don't think that could be a problem."
Patton was a part of a package Baltimore traded to the Padres for catcher Nick Hundley on May 24. Since the move, Patton had only allowed two runs. After settling in with his new club, the injury is a disappointing setback.
"It's been great. Everyone's been really welcoming and very nice to me," he said. "I've been doing my best to pitch well and try to get outs, but up to this point it had been great."
"It's tough any time," Patton said of getting the injury. "This early in the season, not being able to pitch, it's tough."
As for making a swift return after 15 days, Black remains optimistic, but knows these types of injuries are ambiguous.
"We'll know more in like five or six days when the shoulder quiets down and resumes throwing," said Black. "But my hope is that he's able to pitch in 15 days. It's really too early to tell. When you're talking about a pitcher with a shoulder or elbow [injury], you don't know. If you're talking an ankle, a back, the forecast is easier."
• Yasmani Grandal was in the lineup Saturday and Black says health-wise he's where he needs to be.
"I think we're past the stamina question," Black said. "Here we are in June ... and he's proven to us that the endurance, being able to catch ... no worries.
• Pitcher Joe Wieland, who had elbow surgery in March, has started to go through throwing programs and Black hopes he can return around the All-Star break.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that for Joe," he said.
• Black said he still has no news on starter Robbie Erlin's latest MRI that occurred on Friday afternoon.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.