SEATTLE -- Stick Kyle Blanks in the starting lineup, and good things typically happen. That's certainly been the case since Blanks joined the team on April 14 from Triple-A Tucson.
Going into Monday's game against the Mariners, Blanks was hitting .294 (20-for-68) with four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs and a .888 OPS in the 19 games he's started in 2013. He's 1-for-6 when entering a game as a substitute.
Blanks got the start on Monday against the Mariners in right field.
"Kyle is doing good," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's getting his lefties and we're picking spots for Kyle."
Blanks entered the game hitting .344 in 38 plate appearances against lefties and .238 against righties in 50 plate appearances. He's also hitting .458 with 10 RBIs with runners in scoring position.
Since he can play left field, right field and first base, Blanks gives Black some versatility, like other players on the bench such as Alexi Amarista, who can play the outfield and infield.
"The versatility of our position-player group is advantageous," Black said. "They're doing great."
Black appreciates returning to Seattle as manager
SEATTLE -- There are many reasons why Padres manager Bud Black enjoys his annual trip to Seattle for Interleague games against the Mariners.
The Mariners, after all, were the first organization for which Black played. He was a 17th-round pick in the 1979 Draft out of San Diego State University.
Better still is that Black attended high school two hours south of Seattle in Longview, Wash., where he also played two seasons at Lower Columbia Community College.
"It's great for me," Black said before Monday's game against the Mariners at Safeco Field. "… I think that any time that a player or manager goes back to where they were raised … it's just one of those things that feels good."
Black spent parts of three seasons in the Mariners' Minor League system before being added to the 25-man roster late in 1981. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 5 of that season at Fenway Park and allowed a wild pitch and an RBI single to Rick Miller.
Black pitched the following day against the Red Sox and allowed two baserunners before facing Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski. On a full count pitch, he threw a fastball to Yastrzemski, who took the pitch.
"Right down the middle," Black said
A handful of Black's friends from Longview typically make the trip to Seattle for games. Some call or text ahead of time to let Black know they're coming. Some, well ... they just show up.
"Not a game goes by where someone from junior high or college says 'hey,'" Black said.
Grandal to make return to San Diego today
SEATTLE -- Catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was suspended for the first 50 games of the season, will be in uniform tonight when the Padres face the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Grandal officially came off the restricted list Tuesday afternoon and catcher John Baker was optioned to Triple-A Tucson.
In November, it was announced that Grandal would miss the first 50 games after he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone.
Grandal had been playing with Tucson since May 18, as he was allowed to play in 10 games at the Minor League level before his suspension was up. He hit .306 in nine games with three doubles and two RBIs in 36 at-bats.
Grandal flew to Seattle on Monday and will be on the 25-man active roster when the Padres play the second of two games against the Mariners.
"He's ready," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Baker was hitting .150 in 40 at-bats. He said he wasn't totally surprised by the news, yet he was disappointed.
"The writing was kind of on the wall," Baker said. "It will be nice to be able to play. I'm disappointed in how I swung the bat when I was here. But it's an opportunity for me to get some at-bats."
Other than a Minor League rehabilitation assignment in Triple-A in 2011 when he was with the Marlins, Baker hasn't played in the Minors since '08.
"I'm happy for the opportunity to try and find myself," Baker said.
It's unclear how the Padres will use Grandal. Catcher Nick Hundley, who was 1-for-3 on Monday, is hitting .252 this season but only .143 (8-for-56) in May.
Last season, Grandal ran away with the starting catching duties after he was promoted for a second time on June 30. In his first start, he hit home runs from each side of the plate against the Rockies. He had a .297/.394/.469 line with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 192 at-bats with the Padres.
"The Padres have given me great backup. My teammates have been great. I've got nothing to say about that. They've backed me up 100 percent," Grandal said last week, while Tucson was playing in Omaha.
Grandal worked out with the team in Spring Training and played in nine games. He remained behind when the Padres broke camp in late March and played with the club's extended spring training team until he was able to join Tucson for a period not to surpass 10 days.
Richard starts first game off DL; Layne optioned
SEATTLE -- To nobody's surprise, the Padres reinstated pitcher Clayton Richard from the disabled list so that he could start Monday's game against the Mariners.
The Padres optioned left-handed relief pitcher Tommy Layne to Triple-A Tucson just three days after he was added to the 25-man roster. Layne allowed one run on three hits in 2 1/3 innings in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the D-backs, and he was charged with the loss.
On the disabled list since May 5 with an intestinal virus, Richard was 0-4 with an 8.54 ERA in six starts before the ailment took hold. He went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 12 strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings with Tucson while tinkering with a higher arm slot.
The Padres initially kicked around the idea of carrying an extra position player for their series in Arizona before opting to add another pitcher in Layne.
"As it turns out, we needed the extra arm," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Tommy came in and did a nice job for us."