SAN DIEGO -- On a team that has struggled to score runs, outfielder Seth Smith has proven to be the best bat in the lineup through the Padres' first 35 games.
"He's been our most consistent offensive performer, no doubt about it," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Smith went into Thursday's game against the Marlins with a line of .295/.394/.466 and is off to a torrid start in May, with eight hits in 18 at-bats.
Where the left-handed Smith has really succeeded is against right-handed pitching -- which was the main reason the team parted with reliever Luke Gregerson to acquire Smith from the A's.
Last season, the Padres ranked 25th in baseball with a .241 average against right-handed pitching and 29th in OPS (.668) against righties.
This season, Smith has a .305/.389/.488 line against righties in 96 plate appearances with 10 extra-base hits and all seven of his RBIs.
Smith has gotten more playing time early in the season than the Padres originally expected because of injuries to outfielders Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin in Spring Training and because the team has faced just four left-handed starting pitchers.
"The thought in Spring Training was Quentin, Maybin, [Will] Venable and [Chris] Denorfia ... those four getting a lot of playing time with Seth mixing in there, giving us that left-handed bat off the bench. But as the season unfolds, many things can happen," Black said.
"That put Seth right in the middle of the action."
Not that Black is surprised by any of this. He liked Smith when he was with the Rockies.
"Offensively, he's been the guy who has remained consistent and has performed. He's getting on base, hitting for average and has done a nice job in left," Black said. "I don't want to say that he's exceeded expectations, but we've thrust him in there about every day.
"No complaints. He's played his butt off."
Quackenbush rejoins bullpen; Ambriz DFA'd
SAN DIEGO -- Another day, another new pitcher on the roster for the Padres, who on Thursday recalled right-hander Kevin Quackenbush and designated pitcher Hector Ambriz for assignment.
Ambriz was added to the roster Wednesday to give the Padres a fresh arm after a pair of extra-inning games. He allowed one earned run in two innings of an 8-0 loss to the Royals on Wednesday.
The Padres designated Ambriz for assignment because the rules -- optional assignment waivers -- prohibit them from optioning him back to Triple-A El Paso.
If the right-hander clears waivers, the Padres hope to retain Ambriz, who had a 1.62 ERA in 14 games for El Paso.
This is Quackenbush's second stint with the Padres, and it figures to be longer than his first -- one game. The Padres added Quackenbush to the roster on April 25. He allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings in his lone appearance that day and was optioned back to El Paso two days later.
In the interim, Quackenbush tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings for El Paso. Overall this season, his ERA is 1.26 in 13 games for the Chihuahuas.
There will be another roster move coming Saturday when the Padres are expected to activate Chase Headley from the disabled list. Outfielder Carlos Quentin won't likely be too far behind Headley, which means the Padres have two moves to make in the coming days.
Cabrera sees errors piling up early this year
SAN DIEGO -- With two first-inning errors Wednesday, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera has as many errors (six) this season as he had all of last year.
Cabrera's miscues contributed heavily in an 8-0 loss to the Royals. He has six errors in 154 total chances this season compared with six errors a year ago in 447 chances.
"Defensively, we've seen flashes of great plays this year and we've seen him make the routine play. At other times, we've seen him not make that play that should be made," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Yesterday, I wouldn't classify them as routine but they were makeable for a shortstop.
"He'll be the first to admit that."
Cabrera booted Alcides Escobar's ground ball two batters into the contest, and then had trouble digging Alex Gordon's ground ball out of his glove -- and followed by dropping it -- three batters later, the team was down 3-0 after one inning.
"I feel bad," Cabrera said afterward.
Cabrera's first error moved Nori Aoki to second base following his leadoff single and set up Eric Hosmer's two-run single. Cabrera's second error moved Hosmer to third and put Gordon on first, setting up Danny Valencia's RBI single.
"It's just the concentration," said Padres third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who works with the team's infielders. "He made the mistake with the transfer with the glove, and that's something he has actually been pretty good at.
"Being a shortstop, you're always going to get a lot of action."