The Tucson Padres owe Southwest Airlines one.
Returning from the All-Star break Thursday, Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko nearly missed his connecting flight in Chicago. Delayed on his first leg out of Pittsburgh, the Southwest flight bound for Tucson from Chicago waited on the ground an extra 20 minutes for Gyorko, his wife and a couple of other passengers trying to get to Tucson.
Gyorko eventually boarded, got to Tucson on Thursday morning and then delivered a home run and the game-winning RBI later that night.
His first game back reinforced Gyorko is one of the hottest hitters in the Pacific Coast League.
"The break really bothered him," Tucson manager Terry Kennedy joked. "He knows he can hit and that can go a long way. He's not cocky about it, but he has a quiet confidence that he can hit, and that's a good thing to have."
How well is the 23-year-old prospect swinging it?
His three RBIs Thursday gave him 50 in 50 games. Entering Friday's 8-5 loss to Fresno at Kino Stadium, Gyorko led the team in RBIs despite playing in a little over half of the team's 91 games.
Overall with Tucson, Gyorko is batting .344 with 14 home runs and 16 doubles. The numbers are an improvement from his production at Double-A San Antonio before he was promoted to Tucson.
At Double-A, Gyorko was batting .262 with six home runs in 34 games.
"I haven't made a lot of adjustments," Gyorko said. "It's been the same approach. It's not like you go to Triple-A and the pitchers get worse. They've been around the plate more, and that helps.
"But, I think it's trying to figure out what they're trying to do, and I've been better at that up here than in Double-A."
Gyorko has been a popular subject in San Diego, where fans are eager for his arrival. He has started 25 games at third base and 22 at second for Tucson, and Kennedy thinks he could play either position in the major leagues.
Gyorko is trying to ignore all the promotion talk - easier said than done.
"People ask me about (being promoted), but no one really knows if it's going to happen," Gyorko said. "They don't tell us a whole lot. It's not hard to go out there and not think about it. There's too many other things going on to give that a lot of thought."
After Thursday's game, Kennedy compared Gyorko to his big hitter last season, Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo hit .331 with 26 home runs and 101 RBIs in 93 games for Tucson in 2011. He's now in the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs.
"I think Gyorko's the better hitter," Kennedy said. "Riz has made some necessary adjustments since he left us and will be a very good hitter. They're different hitters and try to do different things at the plate, but Gyorko is a complete hitter."
Kennedy's also been impressed with Gyorko's approach recently as talk of a promotion increases. The trade deadline is just more than two weeks away, and if San Diego decides to trade its starting third baseman Chase Headley, Gyorko could be called up to play third every day.
"I'm checking to see how it's going up there, but mostly because those are my teammates, too," Gyorko said. "But, I'm not reading the articles and trying to figure out what's going to happen next. Whatever happens, happens."
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• What: Fresno at Tucson Padres
• Where: Kino Stadium
• When: 7:05 p.m.
• Radio: 1600-AM