Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
Regardless of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Padres have at least one other interesting position question developing: What will the catching lineup look like after Saturday?
Saturday is when reserve catcher Tim Federowicz comes off the disabled list. Federowicz will complete his 20-day rehab assignment Friday. He has been on the DL all season after undergoing surgery during Spring Training to repair the meniscus in his right knee.
The Padres have only two choices Saturday: add Federowicz to the 25-man roster, or designate him for assignment. Federowicz, who turns 28 on Aug. 5, is out of options. He would have to clear waivers to be optioned to Triple-A El Paso. Federowicz is hitting .186 with El Paso.
It had appeared that when Federowicz was ready to return, Austin Hedges would be sent to El Paso to get regular at-bats, with Federowicz backing up Derek Norris.
But Hedges has been hitting better recently, and he has been seeing more time behind the plate as Norris's batting average tumbled down to a season-low .227 before he snapped out of a prolonged slump with the first five-hit game of his career -- including his second grand slam of the season -- Thursday in New York.
Hedges started behind the plate Thursday. Norris started at first for left-handed hitter Yonder Alonso against the Mets' left-handed starter Jonathan Niese.
Hedges was the starting catcher in the day game after starting the previous night. These are signs. And on Wednesday, Hedges had his second two-hit game of the month and the season. He is 6-for-21 in his last seven starts with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Hedges has caught six of the last eight starts made by Tyson Ross and each of the past four. Before Thursday's game, manager Pat Murphy said you can expect to see more of Hedges behind the plate.
So, do the Padres carry three catchers? Does Norris spend more time at first? And what of Alonso, who has the team's highest batting average and on-base percentage?
Before Thursday's game, Norris didn't have an RBI in July and was hitting .147 (10-for-68) since June 28. From June 1 through July 28, Norris's batting average had plunged 56 points.
FROM THE SCORECARD
• 1B Alonso doubled as a pinch-hitter Thursday to extend his hitting streak to four straight games (6-for-14). He has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, going 9-for-29 with two doubles, two homers, three RBIs and four runs scored.
• 3B Yangervis Solarte is 8-for-21 in a five-game hitting streak with two doubles and a triple. Solarte has started 13 of the Padres last 14 games at third base.
• LF Justin Upton is 5-for-15 in his last four games with three homers and seven RBIs.
• CF Melvin Upton Jr. is hitting .265 (13-for-49) in July with a double, a triple, a homer, two steals, four RBIs and six runs scored in July.