The San Diego Padres are more than ready for some offensive reinforcement as they prepare for a major test in a four-game road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Manny Machado, who has missed nine games because of a left ankle sprain, is expected back as soon as Thursday for the series opener between the top two teams in the National League West.
The Padres never put Machado on the 10-day injured list after he slipped off the first base bag and rolled his ankle in the June 19 game at Colorado. The team was optimistic that the star third baseman would have been back sooner.
In fact, the Padres toyed with the idea of using Machado in either game of the quick two-game road series split this week against the Arizona Diamondbacks. San Diego won the finale 4-0 on Wednesday to end a three-game losing streak.
"Manny had another good day (Thursday) and I could have used him if I wanted to," San Diego manager Bob Melvin said postgame. "We didn't get in that position, but we are making significant strides. Maybe he will show up some time in the next series."
Machado, a former Dodger, is batting .328 this season with a .945 OPS, 12 home runs and 46 RBIs. Still without fellow star Fernando Tatis Jr. after his offseason motorcycle crash, the Padres had been able to lean on Machado until the last 10 days, when they went 5-4 without him.
Any contribution Machado can give on Thursday would be appreciated from scheduled Padres starter Joe Musgrove (8-1, 2.12 ERA). The right-hander still is looking for success against the Dodgers, though, as he is 0-4 with a 4.26 ERA against them in six career starts.
The Dodgers are set to open their longest homestand of the season, an 11-game run through July 10.
Right-hander Mitch White (1-1, 4.25 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound on Thursday with just one inning of prior experience against San Diego. He tossed a 1-2-3 frame vs. San Diego on April 23.
Los Angeles will hope to hit the reset button during its long stay at home and find some consistency for an up-and-down offense. The Dodgers earned an 8-4 victory against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday in Denver, but they dropped three of their previous four games.
The Dodgers scored 26 runs in a three-game sweep at Cincinnati to start the trip, then took two of three games at Atlanta. They managed just four runs in two games at Colorado before breaking out on Thursday to finish 6-3 on the three-city tour.
"To get some guys on track offensively going into this next series is a positive," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "(The Padres) are going to come with some energy, as we've seen. We have to match it and play good baseball. Either way, we have a lot of baseball to play, but we want to play our best baseball in this series."
Freddie Freeman got the Dodgers started on Thursday with a home run in the first inning. It was his third long ball of the trip, but his first since an emotional return to his former home of Atlanta last weekend.
Despite a tumultuous time of late, with tears shed at Atlanta and firing his representation this week, Freeman is on a 13-game hitting streak during which he is batting .407 (22-for-54) with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
"We're in a little bit of an up right now, so try to keep it going for San Diego," Freeman said.
--Field Level Media