Kouzmanoff to Portland?

Kevin Kouzmanoff

Would the San Diego Padres consider sending struggling third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff down to the minor leagues to jumpstart his season?

The simple answer is yes.

While Bud Black has backed his starting third baseman, and rightfully so, it has become painful to watch the young man struggle with the big league club.

He has remained humble through the process.

"As soon as you think you have this game figured out it is going to throw you a curveball and you dig yourself a hole," he said. "I make it a point to stay humble, just going out there like you still have a lot to learn and I do."

It isn't so much that he is hitting .115 on the year in 87 at bats but rather how he is getting to that point.

Kevin Kouzmanoff entered the year with a robust .332 minor league average with 59 homers and 259 RBIs in 349 games. He didn't draw a ton of walks for a purported power hitter but was savvy enough to put the ball in play by taking an even-keeled approach and keeping his bat through the hitting zone for as long as possible.

Since joining San Diego, Kouzmanoff has abandoned the swing that made him successful and is flailing wildly at pitches.

Do you send him down and risk ruining a psyche that is bordering on fragile or do you ride it out?

The Padres struggles to put runs across the board have compounded the issue and they must act – and soon. They can't have Russell Branyan starting everyday while Kouzmanoff rides the pine. It isn't going to get him out of any slumps.

Sending him down to Portland, however, would give him the chance to get in the lineup everyday and work out the kinks.

He can regain the confidence lost and make a contribution in a month when the mind and body are realigned.

Branyan isn't hitting a whole lot better but his approach, as evidenced by 10 walks to nine strikeouts, is better and there is reason to believe he will hit better than he has.

With Kouzmanoff, as it stands today, there is little reason to believe.

The surprise, in fact, could be in whom they send up.

Conventional wisdom may point to Paul McAnulty getting called up because he has played some third base and would be a solid bat off the bench.

But, Craig Stansberry is seeing the ball better than any hitter on the team and perhaps the system. He is potent enough to hit the gaps – he leads the Pacific Coast League in doubles with 16 – and his .424 on base percentage is no joke.

He can play multiple spots on the infield and he deserves it.

McAnulty, frankly, deserves it based on the amount of time he has put into the system and the success he has had. And that is why he will get the call again.

When can you expect the move? By the end of the week. It is a move that will help the Padres now and in the future and a move they have to make.

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