Five thoughts on the Padres

Five thoughts on the Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Because Austin Hedges has been in the Padres' Minor League system for almost four full seasons, it's easy to forget that the young catcher is only 22 years old.

When he caught his first Major League game Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco, Hedges was 22 years and 261 days old. He was born on Aug. 18, 1992.

Hedges is the youngest catcher to start a game for San Diego since Ben Davis was 22 years old and 106 days old when he debuted behind the plate in 1999. Davis started 71 games at the age of 22.

The only Padres catcher to catch more games than Davis at the age of 22 or younger was 1987 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Benito Santiago with 155 games in 1986-87.

Not only did Hedges catch a win in his debut behind the plate, he caught one of the best games pitched by a San Diego starter this season. Right-hander Ian Kennedy allowed one run on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

Hedges, who struck out against Giants World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner in his Major League debut Monday night, also contributed offensively with an RBI single during the Padres' five-run third and a sacrifice fly later in the game.

Hedges was San Diego's second-round Draft pick in 2011. Although he was projected as a potential first-round pick, many teams passed early on Hedges because of his strong commitment to UCLA.

Hedges was hitting .324 at Triple-A El Paso when he was promoted to the Padres late Sunday night.

FROM THE SCOREBOOK

• Speaking of Kennedy, the right-hander is now 10-4 lifetime against the Giants with a 2.42 ERA with a opponents batting average of .213. He has 123 strikeouts against 43 walks against San Francisco. The ERA is second only to Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (1.51) against the Giants and the sixth-best mark ever. Kennedy's 2.48 ERA in 12 career starts at AT&T Park is also second to Kershaw (0.97). Kennedy is 5-3 against the Giants in San Francisco.

• The Padres' bullpen appears to be returning to normal. Right-hander Brandon Maurer and left-hander Frank Garces each worked a scoreless inning Wednesday. Over the past six games, San Diego relievers have allowed two earned runs in 14 2/3 innings for a 1.08 ERA. Over the span, opposing hitter are batting .160 (8-for-50) against the Padres' bullpen, with four walks and 14 strikeouts. San Diego relievers have allowed only two runs in 21 2/3 innings against the giants this season -- an ERA of 0.83. On the flip side, Padres relievers allowed 20 runs (19 earned) in just nine innings.

• Infielder Cory Spangenberg made his second start at third base Wednesday and went 3-for-5 with a walk, a steal and a run scored. Over his past five games, Spangenberg is 6-for-16 and he is 10-for-28 with three doubles, an RBI and four runs scored since April 21.

Jedd Gyorko on Wednesday made his first start at second against a right-handed starter in three weeks and went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs. He is now hitting .130 against right-handed pitching (6-for-46), but has three hits in his past six at-bats against right-handers, with a double, a homer and four RBIs.