Situation Behind the Plate, Versatile Ninja and more…
It’s safe to say Nick Hundley is not catching as often as he did in the past with the Padres.
And when Yasmani Grandal is able to catch more frequently, Hundley’s time behind the plate might be further reduced.
Grandal will be the Padres No. 1 catcher as soon as he is able to catch every day on the ACL in his right knee that was surgically rebuilt 8 ½ months ago.
Rene Rivera seems to be entrenched as the No. 2 since he has become the regular catcher for Andrew Cashner and at least the part-time target for Tyson Ross.
Plus, Austin Hedges is on the move. The 21-year-old, second-round pick from the 2011 draft is hitting .271 with San Antonio after hitting his first Double-A homer and having his first Double-A four-hit game Sunday with San Antonio.
So, where does that leave Hundley? The 30-year-old is in the third year of a $9 million contract and has been the Padres primary catcher three of the past four seasons.
The question is more muddled because Hundley is off to a decent start with the bat (6-for-19 with two doubles and a homer) on a team struggling to generate any offense.
“I’m willing to do anything for this team,” Hundley said Sunday, who has been the subject of recent trade speculation given his situation and contract status.
Which led us to ask manager Bud Black is there anywhere else that Hundley might be able to play to inject another bat into a lineup that is averaging 2 ½ sub-.200 hitters in the lineup on any given day?
“Maybe left field,” was the response.
Interesting. Hundley has never played left field. But Tommy Medica had never played left field before this spring. And right-handed hitters Medica (.154) and Xavier Nady (.174) have struggled in the batting average department, although both have delivered key hits.
Of course, the answer in left is Carlos Quentin, who has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with a bone bruise to his left knee. Quentin is getting closer, but there is no timetable on his return.
Might we see Hundley in left before Quentin? No idea . . . but it’s an interesting topic for debate.
PADRES PUZZLER: Which of the Padres five playoff teams had a rookie left fielder who had never before been a regular at the position?
AMARISTA MVP: Alexi Amarista might not be the Padres Most Valuable Player. But he is the Most Versatile Padre. Over the last six games of the homestand that ended Sunday, Amarista, 25, started at four different positions – shortstop last Tuesday night (when Everth Cabrera missed a game with a sore knee), third base (Wednesday-Friday for the injured Chase Headley), center field (Saturday, his seventh start at that position) and second base (Sunday when slumping Jedd Gyorko got the day off).
MAYBIN RETURNING: Padres manager Bud Black said center fielder Cameron Maybin could be returning from his rehab assignment from Triple-A El Paso during the Padres 10-game road trip to Milwaukee, Washington and San Francisco. Maybin suffered a ruptured biceps tendon diving for a ball in the outfield during the Padres third spring training game.
ERLIN STINGY: Although left-handed starter Robbie Erlin gave up three hits and three walks to the first 10 Giants he faced Sunday (which resulted in a loss), he retired the last 14 Giants he faced. Over his last six outings dating back to last season, rival batters have hit only .175 against Erlin. In four starts this season, hitters are batting .206 (13-for-63) against Erlin.
NICK REVISITED: Nick Hundley was 2-for-4 with a home run Sunday against the Giants. Since the start of the 2013 season, six of Hundley’s 14 homers have come against San Francisco. Overall, 12 on Hundley’s 47 career homers have come against the Giants and his home run rate of one-every-9.4-at-bats against San Francisco is the best among active players against the Giants. Hundley has a career batting average of .280 (51-for-182) against the Giants.
PUZZLER ANSWER: Carmelo Martinez played left field for the 1984 Padres that won the National League title. Martinez had been a first baseman in the Cubs system and had played two Major League games in left. Martinez, who was 23 at the start of the 1984 season, made 142 starts in left and hit .250 with 13 homers and 66 RBIs.