4/19/2014 7:21 P.M. ET
Padres garnering lift from bench's power
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- When Yasmani Grandal connected for a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning on Friday, it gave the Padres four pinch-hit home runs this season in just 28 at-bats.
On nine other occasions in franchise history, the Padres have finished with four pinch-hit home runs -- during an entire season. Take 1996, when the team had four of them in 256 at-bats.
"It's been pretty good," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We have a couple of guys that can do it. When you have those guys, the other team worries about it. Power is a weapon, power is real."
Grandal, Seth Smith (March 30 against the Dodgers), Alexi Amarista (April 6, Marlins) and Xavier Nady (April 13, Tigers) are the others to come off the bench and go deep this season.
The four pinch-hit home runs are the most in the Major Leagues this season. The second-place Pirates have done it twice. The only Major League team to have more pinch-hit home runs through the first 17 games of the season was the 2001 D-backs with five in 17 games.
"Going back [to days as a player], I'm remembering certain guys on that bench that might pinch-hit, if there's a threat of a homer or damage, it's disconcerting," Black said. "In most cases when a guy pinch-hits, the game is in the balance. One swing of the bat can change the complexion of the game."
Black aims to keep Gyorko's position static
SAN DIEGO -- Chase Headley returned to the Padres' starting lineup on Saturday after not starting in the previous three games because of a mild strain of his right biceps.
The Padres used Alexi Amarista at third base in his absence but refused to move second baseman Jedd Gyorko to third base, even though he appeared in more games at third base in the Minor Leagues (223) than anywhere else by a long shot.
So why didn't manager Bud Black slide Gyorko over to third base when Headley was out? After all, he did at the beginning of last season when Headley started the year on the disabled list with a fractured thumb.
"I got multiple emails from fans about that," Black said. "I think the best answer is this; We did that a little bit last year, when against a left-handed pitcher, Cody Ransom played third and Jedd played second. Against a righty, Jedd played third and Alexi [Amarista] played second base.
"I just think moving a guy back and forth, especially an everyday player, is not the ideal situation. I think Jedd is a guy we want to keep at second base, keep him stable, keep him steady. I think Alexi's mindset is such where he's used to being moved from position to position. He fills in fine at third."
Gyorko appeared in 13 games at third base last season, with all but one coming before April 15. In those games, he had two errors.
There is a thought, internally at least, that Gyorko's arm is better suited for the right side of the infield.
Hundley working hard despite limited playing time
SAN DIEGO -- The season is barely three weeks old, yet it has become evident that on a team with three catchers, Nick Hundley is the odd-man out.
Does Hundley, who has played in eight of the team's first 17 games, feel that his days in San Diego are numbered?
"It's a fair question," Hundley said before Saturday's game against the Giants. "Going into the season, this isn't the way I thought it would shake-out. It's not the ideal situation."
San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes has previously stated that he didn't think the team would carry three catchers all season. And with outfielders Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin set to come off the disabled list in the next month, if not sooner, dropping or trading a catcher would seem logical.
"When we get to a point where [Cameron] Maybin and [Carlos] Quentin are ready to come off the DL, then we'll have to decide what to do. That's a spot we'll have to take a look at," Byrnes said.
Hundley, a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona, has a deeper history with manager Bud Black than anyone in the clubhouse other than Chase Headley.
Hundley, who has four hits in 15 at-bats this season, has appeared in the fourth-most games in franchise history at catcher (457) since breaking into the big leagues in 2008.
Yasmani Grandal, who is hitting .355, is the team's primary starting catcher, even though he's not yet to the point where he's caught consecutive games after coming off knee surgery last August.
Rene Rivera, who has a strong reputation among the Padres' pitchers, is getting most of the reps as the backup catcher.
As for Hundley, who is making $4 million this season in the final year of a three-year contract he signed in 2012, he's trying to spend his time working on his framing skills and trying to keep his swing current with a lot of early work.
"The only thing I can control is my game. I feel my game is sharp, I've never caught better, I feel like I've never swung the bat better," he said.
Hundley has worked with assistant general manager A.J. Hinch on receiving the ball in a better fashion. He's worked with hitting coach Phil Plantier on keeping his swing mechanics as well.
If the team is indeed trying to shop him, he's not concerned about it.
"I can't look that far ahead," he said.