50 Games for Yasmani Grandal. The Padres will be without arguably their most exciting and talented young player for close to one-third of the 2013 season. The suspension is a definite, and deserved, swift kick to the groin of a franchise seeking to improve. While many will focus on Grandal and what his absence means for him and his career, lost in the chaos somewhat is former starting back-stop Nick Hundley and what this new-found opportunity means to his career with the Friars.
Last week I discussed what the Padres could expect from Hundley during the upcoming season. Additionally, I also talked about how and why 2013 was a “make or break” year for Hundley as he would likely take a back-seat to Grandal, and possibly even lose some time to veteran John Baker. With Grandal set to be absent for 2013’s first 50 games though, Hundley has a golden opportunity to win his old job back outright.
As we have pointed out numerous times on “Chicken Friars,” 2012 was just one disaster after another for Nick, especially from an Offensive standpoint. Hundley hit only .157 (32 for 204), and recorded career-lows in Hits, Runs (14), RBI’s (22), Home Runs (33), and put up dismal On-Base (.219) and Slugging Percentages (.245). What was even worse than Hundley’s poor output at the plate was the fact that he was afflicted by hamstring and knee ailments during the season as well, and even was sent down to Triple-A Tucson for a spell during the summer.
Suspension aside, Grandal is definitely the most talented Catcher on San Diego’s roster, and gave us so many terrific glimpses of solid play to come during his Rookie season. Nevertheless, I am always a fan of a redemption story, and Hundley could be quite the come-back kid in 2013 if he reverts back to his 2008-2011 form. While it will be a “tall order” to replace Grandal and what is able to do at the plate. But Hundley cannot possibly play any worse than he did last season? Can he? If he indeed does, then I will be astounded by the utter lack of production, but at full-health there is no way Hundley hits under his own weight this season.
So let’s go Nick! Take back what was once yours with a strong showing. And who knows? Maybe this could be some ridiculous & topsy-turvy blessing in disguise for the franchise.
At least that is what the delusional optimist in me is saying right now.
Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference