Giants can't afford to overlook young Padres

SAN DIEGO -- There's a sandbox behind Petco Park's center field fence that is usually filled with kids.

Which, come to think of it, is much like the Padres' lineup.

San Diego will wrestle with San Francisco on Friday with a batting order much like it displayed in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Giants.

The Giants are all in, knowing their best path to the playoffs is as an NL wild-card team.

The Padres, meanwhile, are all peach fuzz.

"They are good players though," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "They have had good years, the young players that are playing. You better make your pitches to them."

The Padres' sales pitch is watch their youngsters grow.

Outfielders Hunter Renfroe, the Pacific Coast League MVP, and Manuel Margot are here. Same goes for catcher Austin Hedges and infielder Carlos Asuaje, the PCL hit leader.

"The last thing you should do is take for granted that someone is a young player and he is trying feel his way up here," Bochy said. "They played for a team that just won the PCL championship. That was a good team down there and they had a lot of good players."

Padres manager Andy Green feels the same way. He has no qualms about penciling in the rookies despite the Giants locked in competition with others for a postseason berth.

"I think that's like common wisdom of what most people would say," Green said. "The reality is when the Yankees called up all their young guys everyone thought they were throwing in the towel for the season, from the public's perspective, and they made a run for the playoffs."

And by inserting the fresh faces it's not like Green is breaking up the 1927 Yankees. The Padres are barreling toward their sixth straight losing season.

"We don't know what these guys are on a baseball field yet," Green said. "They come up and if they swing the bat well, they are going to be part of our future. So to deprive them the opportunity to be play on the major league level because we are supposed to put our 'A' lineup on the field? This may be our 'A' lineup. It may be this year and it may be next year. What it is right know is the unknown. To me it's about them."

At least the Padres' starter will have some rings around his tree. Veteran Edwin Jackson (4-6, 6.00) faces Albert Suarez (3-4, 4.16).

Green promises the Giants will get the lowly Padres' best shot.

"When the game is on the line, we are managing everything to win the baseball game," he said. "Every decision we make as a staff is to win the game. There is nobody throwing in the towel based on who we put in the lineup.

"These guys are going to play. I don't feel any obligation to put out a certain lineup in order to keep it competitive for what people perceive to be for the greater good of major league baseball."

Sounds fair, skipper -- just keep the young 'uns out of the sand box.