Austin Hedges: Your newest Padres (backup) catcher!

Austin Hedges

Yes, Padres fans. It’s actually happening. After rumors of a possible promotion picked up steam over the past few days, Austin Hedges has joined the big league ballclub in San Francisco as the Padres begin their nine day road trip against the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Mariners. ALL HAIL THE CHOSEN ONE!

The rumors started circulating as to what the reason for Hedges promotion actually was on Sunday evening. Well, there could be a good number of reasons. The first, and likely the most obvious, is that Derek Norris is in desperate need of some rest, or at the very least, some time away from catching duties. Over the past few games, Norris has taken an absolute beating behind the dish. If we’re going to get a full season’s worth of work from Norris, he’s going to require a reliable backup to give him the time off that he needs. Wil Nieves has not been that guy. If you take away Nieves’ grand slam back on April 12th against the Giants, the 37-year-old veteran has been a complete disaster both at bat and behind the plate. Honestly, if Nieves was not designated for assignment on Monday morning, it would come as a total shock.

The second scenario is that Yonder Alonso might be in need of a trip to the DL after getting drilled in the back by a Kenny Roberts pitch in the 8th inning of Sunday’s sweep-clinching victory against the Rockies. Yangervis Solarte finished the game at 1B in the 9th inning. I’m no doctor, but Alonso appeared to be in a lot of pain and could need multiple days off. Speculation on twitter was that Norris would see time at 1B if Alonso was going to be shelved. While shifting Norris to 1B occasionally could be an option, it should also be noted that the only times Norris has seen playing time at 1B was one game as an 18-year-old in his rookie league season with the Washington Nationals organization and four innings of work as a member of the Oakland Athletics in 2013.

The third scenario is that Joaquin Benoit might he headed to the DL. In case you missed the “dead arm” talk, I’ll bring you up to speed. Over the past couple of days, the word floating around Petco Park was that Benoit had a “dead arm” and might be a candidate for the disabled list. This rumor was reaffirmed before the game this afternoon on Padres Social Hour. Fast forward to the 8th inning. Who comes running out of the bullpen? Non other than Joaquin Benoit. So, what does Benoit and his now undead, zombie arm do? He just retires all three Rockies hitters that he faced. So much for the “dead arm” talk, right? Well, maybe not. Although Benoit pitched a great 8th inning, he may still have some issues with his arm not being at full strength. Considering how well Benoit pitched, I wouldn’t say this is a likely outcome, but not an improbably one, either.

Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that this most recent move only adds to the buzz that has surrounded this ballclub since general manager A.J. Preller lit the 2014 Padres on fire and raised the exciting, new-look 2015 Padres from their ashes. However long Hedges stays with the big league club remains to be seen. Regardless, all eyes will be on Hedges come Monday night at AT&T Park. His time is now.

** UPDATE: Wil Nieves was designated for assignment on Monday morning per Corey Brock **

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