Potentially entering his last year in a Padres uniform, catcher Austin Hedges received a special message from manager Jayce Tingler.
Five years into his major league career with the Padres, Austin Hedges has a career .201 batting average to show for it. He’s consistently been ranked above-average in pitch-framing and defensive abilities behind the plate but has been horrendous with a bat in his hands.
However, with Francisco Mejia, Luis Campusano, and potentially Luis Torrens coming, Hedges was tendered a one-year, $3M deal in what feels like a “prove-it” year. And manager Jayce Tingler isn’t messing around in his first year as the Padres’ leader, giving Hedges a simple message, “you have to get on base.”
Hedges indicated that he has a new approach at the plate that he’s going to execute, claiming to ‘ride or die with it,’ so it certainly seems that he understands how important it is for him to produce this year. A 60-game schedule doesn’t offer much room for error, and with Mejia needing playing time as well, Hedges will have to make every at-bat count.
This is coming on the heels of photos/videos of Hedges hosting a pool party with an apparent lack of social distancing.
The Padres finished with the fifth-worst on-base percentage in baseball last year (.308), and it was a big reason why the team acquired Tommy Pham in the offseason. The former Cardinals farmhand has a career .373 OBP, and Tingler is hoping his patience rubs off on his teammates.
With a deep rotation and bullpen, the Padres need their young core to step up this year. They cannot afford to hit .238 as a team again, especially in a shortened season. All eyes will be on Austin Hedges and his ability to get on base starting July 24.