Nobody has ever doubted Carlos Quentin’s ability to play baseball. The problem has been his ability to play baseball.
Quentin’s talent and impact are undeniable. The 2-time All-Star simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Since joining the Padres in 2012, Quentin has never played more than 86 games. In his 9-year career, he’s never played more than 131 games. Injuries have wiped out the rest.
But, Quentin still has lots of baseball left in him.
“I still feel I can be productive,” says Quentin. “The ball still comes off my bat, yes.”
The San Diego native watched in the off-season as the Padres added piece after piece and morphed in to playoff contenders.
“The city of San Diego should be extremely excited,” says Quentin. “The new ownership really changed things. They really brought in a lot of different guys and I think the city is really responding. There’s a buzz around town.”
The problem for Carlos is a lot of the guys who came in (Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers) play Quentin’s position. So, the outfielder was subject to trade rumors. Would an American League team bring him on to be a designated hitter? But, there is another option: Switching positions.
Quentin brought a first baseman’s glove to Arizona for the first time in his career. The change seems to have rejuvenated him.
“Yeah, I mean I’m enjoying learning a new position. My entire career I’ve been an outfielder. I’ve played outfield since high school (at Cathedral Catholic). It’s a lot of fun to do something different.”
The footwork at first base is much different, and can be taxing on the knees, but so far Quentin has had no issues with the move.
“The footwork is different, but everything’s different. It’s the infield. You’ve got to be prepared for the ball every single time. It’s actually easier to focus because you’re focusing every time the pitch is thrown. In the outfield you’ve really got to work on staying focused because you might not get the ball the entire game.”
"He's doing fine," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's getting his grounders, he's getting all the subtleties of the position, he's learning our bunt plays, he's learning the cutoff and relay system. Carlos is a sharp guy. He knows baseball. He's working hard at it, so it's been fun for him."
For now, Yonder Alonso is penciled in as the starting first baseman. But he’s been working more and more at third base, as well, which might open up a little more playing time for Quentin, adding one more bat with 30 home run pop to the Padres already potent lineup.