Federowicz out three to six months after knee surgery

Current internal options to replace veteran include Nieves, Hedges

Federowicz out three to six months after knee surgery

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The news couldn't have been worse for the Padres regarding the condition of Tim Federowicz.

The hopeful at backup catcher will be out three to six months after team orthopedic surgeons at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., had to repair a complete tear of the lateral meniscus in his right knee during an arthroscopic procedure on Friday.

"It's a pretty tough break," said Padres manager Bud Black after his club defeated the Angels, 7-3, in a Cactus League game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. "We didn't know what was going to happen or what it was going to look like. But it was a pretty significant tear. Optimistically, [we're looking at the] All-Star break or it could get into mid-August. That's the timeline."

Federowicz, acquired along with Matt Kemp in the Dec. 18 trade with the Dodgers that sent catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Wieland to Los Angeles, was projected as a key backup behind the plate to Derek Norris this season. Norris was picked up in a trade with the A's on the same day.

Even with Federowicz, who caught in only 67 games for the Dodgers the past two seasons, the Padres were a little thin in experienced players behind the plate. They now have to look at veteran Wil Nieves or rookie Austin Hedges, who didn't play above Double-A last season. Nieves, a non-roster invitee, has played 14 seasons for seven teams and is a .243 hitter with nine homers and 110 RBIs. Most recently he started 34 games behind the plate for the Phillies last season, batting .254.

There's a possibility that new general manager A.J. Preller may look elsewhere for another utility catcher.

"We're always looking for players at all positions," Black said.

But about catchers in particular?

"We have Nieves in camp," he added. "I thought Austin Hedges caught a good game today. All the guys in camp are in the mix."

Five of the seven catchers in camp -- sans Norris and Federowicz -- are non-roster players with no big-league experience.

Federowicz injured the knee this past Sunday in a game against the Rockies simply shifting from one side to the other while on defense. He had two hits in five at-bats this spring after batting .113 in 23 games last seasons for the Dodgers. He also logged 78 games and 329 plate appearances, hitting .328 at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Norris started 93 games and played in 114 games as a catcher for the A's last season, hitting a very respectable .270 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs. Norris split the duties with John Jaso. A three-year vet, Norris has started only 217 games behind the plate.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.