SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. – Cory Spangenberg will report back to the San Diego Padres in two weeks to try to get ready for another season of Major League Baseball.
First, however, Spangenberg stopped back at his old high school to be recognized by a sell-out crowd prior to Tuesday night’s first-place boys basketball showdown between Abington Heights and Scranton Prep.
Spangenberg was joined by his family on the court next to a framed “5” Comets baseball jersey that will go on display in the lobby at Abington Heights where he led the Comets to a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA state championship in 2009.
“It’s where I grew up,” said Spangenberg, who has spent the offseason back in Clarks Summit after the 2011 first-round draft pick’s first full season in the Majors. “It’s where my roots are, where I went to high school, where I come back to.
“It’s great that the community was able to recognize me and I do really appreciate it.”
Spangenberg, who also started on the basketball team at Abington Heights, stopped in at a practice last week to visit with his former coaches. He settled in at courtside across from the team benches and watched his alma mater struggle early, before mounting a spirited comeback that fell short in a 73-61 loss.
“Prep-Abington games are always fun,” he said. “They’re a lot more fun to play in.”
Spangenberg sticks to baseball these days.
After making his debut as a September call-up in 2014, he made the Padres roster in spring training a year ago.
“They didn’t tell me until every single roster had been made,” Spangenberg said. “I didn’t know whether I had made the team or not, so it was an exciting experience when they finally told me I had.”
After a month keeping busy as a utility player, filling multiple roles off the bench, Spangenberg took over as the Padres starting second baseman. He was the team’s most frequent starter at the position the rest of the season, even with missing nearly seven weeks with a knee injury.
“I feel like right before my injury I started to swing the bat really well for about two weeks,” Spangenberg said. “It was just unfortunate timing.”
After a few days back in the minor leagues on an injury rehabilitation assignment, Spangenberg returned to the lineup in August and finished strong.
“After the injury, I feel like I just picked up where I left off,” he said.
Spangenberg, who will be 25 before the start of the season, hit .290 in 20 games and 62 at-bats in 2014, then .271 in 108 games and 303 at-bats in 2015. He started 81 games, including 67 at second base.
Combined, Spangenberg has hit. 274 with 19 doubles, six triples and six home runs in his first 128 MLB games. He has driven in 30 runs, scored 45 runs and stolen 13 bases.
In addition to starting 70 of his 73 career games as a second baseman, Spangenberg has started in 22 of his 28 games at third base, started three out of five games he has appeared as a left fielder, and come off the bench to play twice in right field and once in center field. When not starting, he has also made appearances as a pinch hitter and pinch runner.
The Padres traded Jedd Gyorko, one of their other three second baseman, to the Cardinals, but they did add Jose Pirela, a utility player who appeared in 27 games at the position for the New York Yankees last season.
Although Spangenberg appears to be the front runner to start at second base if he has a good spring, he is not counting on anything.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said. “I need to go into spring training ready for anything.”
Spangenberg was honored, along with powerlifter Dalton LaCoe, between Tuesday’s junior varsity and varsity games.
Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.