Padres back ‘relevant’ Jurickson Profar after clutch hit vs. Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES — San Diego Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar came up with the game-winning hit that led to a series victory Sunday at Dodger Stadium. That his three-run double in the seventh inning came one day after Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith called him “irrelevant” did not go unnoticed by one of Profar’s most prominent teammates.

“Irrelevant? I don’t know. You’ll have to check the dictionary on that,” Padres third baseman Manny Machado said after San Diego’s 6-3 win. “He’s been leading this team big-time. The numbers speak for themselves. Every time he comes out here, steps on that field, he makes a big impact on the game. At the end of the day, boy got 10 years in the league. There’s only a handful of baseball players, in all of baseball, who accomplish that goal, so, got to put a little bit of respect on his name.”

Profar took exception to being brushed back by an up-and-in cutter from Dodgers starter Gavin Stone in the fifth inning Saturday, triggering a benches-clearing incident. It was a surprising reaction to the Dodgers, who noted they led by only a run and that Stone was throwing a perfect game.

Smith, speaking to AM 570 after Saturday’s contest, said of Profar, “I don’t know why we would’ve thrown at him. He’s kind of irrelevant.”

A day later, with the score tied at 3 in the seventh inning, Profar responded in the best way possible, coming up with the bases loaded and one out and lining a J.P. Feyereisen offering off the top of the center-field wall.

Profar, a beloved clubhouse presence who was brought back on a $1 million contract during spring training, has a .960 OPS thus far.

“I can tell you this: Profar is very relevant to us,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s a glue guy for us. Guy’s got 10 years in the big leagues. There’s relevancy there. Did a nice job tonight with the three-run double. But beyond that, Pro’s a pro. He’s a very big part of the San Diego Padres. He’s very relevant to me. I believe completely he’s very relevant to his teammates. So, we respect and appreciate him highly.”

While miked for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” Profar admitted Stone wasn’t trying to throw at him and mostly laughed off the incident. After the game, Profar declined to bark back at Smith’s remark.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Profar said with a chuckle when asked if he feels “relevant.” “I’m just going to play, like I did.”

Asked if he had heard about Smith’s barb, Profar said: “Yeah, I heard it. But I’m not a media guy. I show up out there.”

While Profar tried to diffuse it, the slight was yet another incident — as small as it might have been — in a budding rivalry that has had quite a few tense moments over the past handful of years.

Machado, a onetime Dodger booed vociferously every time he returns to play in L.A., said he didn’t pay much attention to it. But he made it clear he took exception.

He also came up with a new nickname for Profar: Mr. Relevant.

“You’ve got a guy who’s got 10 years in the league; I think he’s a little bit more relevant than being irrelevant, as (Smith) said,” Machado said. “You got to out some respect on some people’s names. And I think that’s what this game is losing: They’re losing respect for some of these guys who have been here for a very, very long time.”

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