With Manny Machado now officially the Padres' third baseman, Ian Kinsler can focus on playing second base for San Diego.
Kinsler, fresh off a World Series title with the Boston Red Sox, was on a long list of possibilities at third base before that talk was squelched when Machado agreed this week to a $300 million, 10-year contract.
"The buzz was circulating around camp and everyone was really excited about it," Kinsler said. "He is a threat. You don't want to see him at the plate and late-game situations. He's a game changer."
Kinsler can now shift all of his focus to second base.
"We brought him in with the expectation of playing at second base for the majority of the time," manager Andy Green said. "If we wanted to explore more versatility, if our roster didn't change, then we would explore that versatility."
Kinsler has played only two innings at third base in his 13-year career.
The Padres are Kinsler's fifth team. He opened last season with the Los Angeles Angels before being traded to Boston at the deadline. He played in 11 postseason games as the Red Sox won their fourth World Series title since 2004.
"To be a champion, you have to bring it every day," said Kinsler, who played in the World Series with Texas in 2010 and 2011. "There are no breaks. At this level, you have to bring your best every day if you want to win a championship. Last year was refreshing for me to get back into that environment."
He then signed an $8 million, two-year contract with the Padres.
"I had some good opportunities all come together at the same time but I felt like this was a really good fit for me and just jumped on it," Kinsler said. "There's a lot of excitement here. Anywhere there's an exciting atmosphere with young talent and a team that can make waves quickly, it's always fun to be a part of. I'm looking forward to it."
During spring training, Kinsler is back in his home state. He grew up in Tucson and attended Arizona State University his sophomore season. He transferred to Missouri, where he hit .335 his junior season and made the All-Big-12 Conference second team.
"I love it here," Kinsler said. "The pink mornings, big moons and sun, mountains, it just brings back a lot of memories. I think you always love to be back where you spent your childhood."
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