It’s becoming clear that Austin Hedges is only going to add defensive value for the San Diego Padres and that’s how he should be used.
He wasn’t a great hitter in the minors even when he was a top prospect, and he’s never hit in the big leagues and we’re looking at almost a 400 game sample size.
Hedges does one thing exceptionally well, and that’s catch a baseball. If it weren’t for that he wouldn’t even be on a Major League roster right now.
I’m not trying to downplay what Hedges does, in fact, I probably think he’s more valuable to the team than most, but I just think it’s time we give up on the dreams of him contributing much of anything at the plate.
So far this season he’s 0-for-13 with 5 strikeouts. Again, small sample size, but I’ve seen nothing in his swing to tell me a break out is coming.
Instead, manager Jayce Tingler needs to learn how to utilize him correctly.
And the way you do that is to only start him once or twice a week and pair him with pitchers who need a little help getting calls.
Someone like Chirs Paddack, who Hedges caught Wednesday night, doesn’t need a great catcher behind the plate to be successful — he’s good enough on his own.
But someone like Dinelson Lamet who can have some control issues at times might need Hedges to help steal a strike every now and then.
And then I would use Hedges late in games as a defensive replacement.
However, the bigger problem for the Padres right now is that neither of their catchers is hitting.
Francisco Mejia is 0-for-6 in four games with a walk and a strikeout, but he has scored twice.
That’s an even smaller sample size for Mejia who I’d like to see get more reps and play three consecutive days in a row to see if he can get into a groove at the plate.
If Hedges is going to be a part of this team, and I still think he should be, then Tingler needs to learn how to utilize him correctly.