Hedges puts defensive skills on display

Padres' rookie catcher throws out 2 would-be basestealers vs. Nationals

Hedges puts defensive skills on display

SAN DIEGO -- It didn't take Austin Hedges long to get his first Major League hit, as it came in his first start with the Padres on May 6 in San Francisco.

It took the rookie catcher a little longer to throw out his first -- and then his second -- would-be basestealers.

Hedges, regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the Minor Leagues before he joined the Padres earlier this month, tossed out Michael Taylor trying to steal third base during the second inning of Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Nationals.

And in the seventh inning, Hedges cut down Ian Desmond trying to swipe second base on a delayed steal.

"We saw the quick feet, [the] powerful arm," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Great reaction, arm strength, accurate … that's what we've seen out of him since the day we signed him."

The Nationals weren't quite ready to let Hedges have his first caught stealing, as manager Matt Williams challenged the call, thinking Taylor got his foot under the tag of Will Middlebrooks.

"I thought, initially, he [Taylor] got under it," Hedges said.

But the call stood, helping keep the Nationals' damage minimal in an inning that started with a single by Taylor.

"That was cool. I had definitely thought of that [first caught stealing], what would it be … I didn't expect it to be at third," Hedges said. "That was a big situation and it helped us get out of the inning. I was pretty pumped about that."

Worth noting

• Outfielder Melvin Upton will begin a 20-day Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Monday with Triple-A El Paso. He is expected to get around 50 or so at-bats during that stint, first as a designated hitter and an outfielder before moving into the lineup on a regular basis in the outfield.

"He won't play nine innings every single day," said Black. "This will be [his] Spring Training."

Upton essentially missed all of Spring Training with the Braves because of sesamoiditis (inflammation of a bone in the foot).

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.