It's easy to tell when Jedd Gyorko is in the lineup.
The Tucson Padres infielder is usually the first player out of the clubhouse. He situates his bats and helmet in the dugout and is the first to start his pregame stretching routine in left field.
It's also easy to tell when the 23-year-old prospect isn't playing. His jersey is usually covered with a jacket and he's one of the final players to file into the dugout.
Luckily for Tucson and manager Terry Kennedy, Gyorko was back to being the first on the field Thursday night. Gyorko returned after missing seven days with a sore left ankle. It was the first time in his professional career he was placed on the disabled list.
He went 3 for 4 in his return, including a two-run home run in his first at-bat, as Tucson defeated Iowa 7-6 at Kino Stadium.
He has been Tucson's best player this season, posting a .339 average in 75 games with 18 home runs and 68 RBIs.
"It's always nice when you get your No. 3 hitter back," Kennedy said. "It usually takes guys a little time to adjust to this league. He just came up here and hit right away. His skills and ability to make quick adjustments have really helped him."
Gyorko's return comes at a good time. Tucson went 0-6 without the infielder and hit just one home run in the stretch.
The Star chatted with Gyorko about his return and his goals for the rest of the season.
How exactly did you injure the ankle?
A: "I first twisted it here during a home game, and it was bothering me for a while. I was playing with it, and then we got to Albuquerque, and I fouled a ball off my ankle, and it just swelled up real bad, real quick. It was kind of a fluke thing, but we all decided it was best for me to go on the DL and be careful with it."
What was it like being on the DL for the first time?
A: "It was one of the longest weeks I've had in baseball. The hardest part, I think, was just having no control over what happens. I'm used to going out there and helping my team win and playing hard and help control whether we win or lose. When you're on the DL, you just have to sit there and be there for your teammates and just kind of root them on."
How important are these final few weeks?
A: "I don't think any stretch of the season is more important than another. I think these last few weeks are just as important as the first few. It's human nature to want to show up to the park and play hard and beat the team you're playing against. One thing I've always taken pride in is my consistency and staying healthy is part of that. So, I want to get back to being consistent and healthy and these last few weeks are a chance to do that."
With major-league rosters expanding Sept. 1, how much are you thinking about getting called up for the first time in your career?
A: "I really don't think about it a lot, and I'm being honest. Time flies and there just isn't a whole lot of time to think about that and what's going to happen next. I wouldn't say I'm eager about it. Whatever happens, happens. I guess I'd say it's on your mind a little more before you come to the park, when you're talking to people on the phone and they're asking you about that stuff. Once I get here to the park, I try to put it out of my head."
• Who: Iowa at Tucson Padres
• Where: Kino Stadium
• When: 7:05 p.m.
• Radio: 1600-AM