"I was running to second, slid in and felt something grabbing my groin," Gyorko explained. "I thought it was just a cramp. My body was pulling against a muscle. My timing, endurance, stance, all changed. I kinda had to start all over. I even had to go over the tendencies of the pitchers again."
As a result, his batting average, sitting at a lofty .288 on June 8, started to plummet after his return from the disabled list. He went 2 for 26, then 4 for 33 and finally 5 for 51. Only now has he started to drag himself back into 100-percent shape and move the average back near the .250 mark. (He was at .247 going into Saturday night's game at Atlanta.)
He never lost his position, though.
"Jedd won the job back in spring training," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He simply did everything we asked of him. And defensively it became apparent right away he could handle everything we threw at him."
Gyorko had been moved from third base to second by the Padres simply because they had an everyday third baseman in Headley. A year ago they had gone through Orlando Hudson, Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista at second. Gyorko won the position and has held his own, committing only six errors while playing alongside shortstops Everth Cabrera, Ronny Cedeno, Forsythe and Amarista.
"I had played [second base] some in college so it wasn't completely foreign to me," Gyorko said. "I think they are happy with my play at second this season."
One concern, though, is Gyorko's strikeout total.
"Strikeouts?" questioned Padres hitting instructor Phil Plantier of Gyorko's whiffs, which were up to 109 in 425 at bats. "Yes, we are concerned, but that number will go down next year. The injuries hurt him, but it's a matter of learning the tendencies of the pitchers he is facing. It's not the pitch he is striking out on that bothers us, it's the first or second strike and those pitches before the punchout that he is just missing that concern us. It can and will be fixed. He is just too good of a hitter."
'Dig a little deeper'
It's 396 feet to the dead-center-field wall at Petco Park. On this day, Gyorko had been hit by a pitch on the shoulder in the first inning and then teed off on a Tim Lincecum splitter in the fourth inning for a 392-foot double that hit that wall on one bounce. No small feat considering Lincecum had led the National League in strikeouts in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
But when Gyorko next approached the plate with two runners on base and two out in the sixth, the Padres were trailing 8-5 and Jean Machi was coming in to replace Lincecum for the Giants.
With a little time to kill, the scoreboard operator dropped in a tape, THE tape. The one blaring "Country Roads," the one showing various exploits of the rookie from Morgantown, the one Gyorko would rather not hear.
Nope. He struck out.
Next time maybe they should cue Aldean and his lyrics: "Full throttle, wide open you get tired, you don't show it. Dig a little deeper when you think you can't dig no more. That's the only way I know."
That's more Jedd anyway.
Jedd Gyorko profile
Jedd Gyorko's big-league home runs to date
No. Opponent, date Pitcher
1. at Cubs, May 1 Scott Feldman
2. Diamondbacks, May 5 Ian Kennedy
3. Marlins, May 6 Wade LeBlanc
4. Nationals, May 17 Gio Gonzalez
5. Cardinals, May 22 Tyler Lyons
6. at Mariners, May 28 Brandon Maurer
7. at Dodgers, June 5 Clayton Kershaw
8. at Rockies, June 7 Rob Scahill
9 Yankees, Aug. 2 Joba Chamberlain
10. Orioles, Aug. 7 Miguel Gonzalez
11. at Rockies, Aug. 12 Jeff Francis
12. at Rockies, Aug. 13 Jeff Manship
13. Mets, Aug. 17 Carlos Torres
14. Pirates, Aug. 20 A.J. Burnett
15. Cubs, Aug. 23 Edwin Jackson
16. Cubs, Aug. 23 Blake Parker
17. Rockies, Sept. 7 Matt Belisle
18. at Phillies, Sept. 11 Cliff Lee