5/24/2014 8:20 P.M. ET
Hundley traded to O's, will be missed by teammates
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- The first person Will Venable met when he arrived in Eugene, Ore., in the summer of 2005 was Nick Hundley.
They were two strangers on the lowest rung of professional baseball's food chain, bonded together by their pursuit of reaching the big leagues and, as Venable said, something much more immediate.
"I needed a place to live," the Venable, the Padres' outfielder. "He was my first roommate."
This story held relevance Saturday as Venable recounted the early days of his relationship with Hundley, who after playing parts of seven seasons with the Padres, was dealt to the Orioles for relief pitcher Troy Patton earlier in the day.
"Even if you know things like this happen in the game, after 10 years of playing together, the one thing you know for sure if Nick will always be there … he always has been," Venable said.
"He's not just one of my baseball buddies, but he's one of my best friends."
While trades are part of the game, and the Padres didn't figure to carry three catchers all season, that deal that moved Hundley, 30, came as a shock to many of his teammates -- and Hundley, too.
"I know there have been discussions and all that stuff, but you never really think it's going to happen," Hundley said by phone as he planned on an evening flight to Baltimore.
"I loved it. I loved everything about San Diego. I grew up a lot and learned a lot. I got to play with Greg Maddux, Trevor Hoffman, Will Venable, Chase Headley, a lot of guys. I feel so very fortunate. The only thing I regret is not winning the NL West."
Hundley, a second-round pick in 2005, the same year the Padres took Venable and Headley, hit .238/.296/.389 in parts of seven seasons with the team. He was hitting .271 this season in 59 at-bats, getting limited playing time at catcher behind Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera.
Hundley was the Padres' Opening Day catcher from 2010-2013. His best season with the team came in 2011 when he hit .288 with nine home runs, 16 doubles and 29 RBIs.
"I know from a player's standpoint when you're drafted and raised in an organization, and been here as long as Nick has, it's emotional to leave your first organization," said San Diego manager Bud Black, the only big league manager Hundley has had.
"Nick has such a great heart and was a great Padre. He was truly on board form a team aspect, unselfish player. That was a tough one."
Black was just one many people Hundley talked about on Saturday who had an influence on his life and career.
"It was easy to lay it on the line for him. I would compete with him anytime. He's such a great fit for the Padres," Hundley said of Black. "He's been great to me from the first day I met him. He's had my back a lot.
"And to play with guys like Chase, Will and Tim Stauffer for eight, 10 years, these days, that's unheard of."
Hundley worked closely with former big league catcher and current Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch on his framing and receiving skills from the start of Spring Training and into the season and Hundley showed vast improvements in those areas.
Hinch called the deal "bittersweet."
"Nick is one of the good people you come across in this game," Hinch said. "I think one of Nick's greatest attributes is that as an established Major Leaguer, he still wanted to get better. So that meant not taking questions about his defense personally."
Now Hundley gets a new lease on his professional career as he heads to the American League and to the Orioles with starting catcher Matt Wieters on the disabled list. Hundley said he'll take his work ethic to Baltimore with him with the desire to prove that he can still be an everyday catcher.
"If you don't improve, the game will pass you by, and pass you by quick," Hundley said. "I feel that as long as I'm healthy, I can be a productive Major League catcher."
Patton will add depth to strong bullpen
SAN DIEGO -- One of baseball's best bullpens got another weapon Saturday when the Padres landed left-handed reliever Troy Patton from the Orioles for catcher Nick Hundley and cash considerations.
For Padres general manager Josh Byrnes, the deal Saturday simply boiled down to supply and demand.
"They had a catching need and we had a catching surplus," Byrnes said.
The Padres have played the entire season with three catchers to this point. Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera will now share catching duties. Grandal got the start Saturday against the Cubs.
Patton, 28, will be in uniform Sunday for the series finale against the Cubs. He comes to the Padres as a second left-hander in the bullpen with Alex Torres. He'll need to pitch well to stay. Patton doesn't have Minor League options.
"Here's a guy that you look at the little bit of track record that he's had over the past three years, overall it's been pretty good work," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's done a nice job against left-handed hitters and he's capable of getting the right-handed hitters out. He complements Torres.
"He's a guy that depending on his performance can play a role in a very good bullpen."
Patton has a career 3.28 ERA in 143 big league games over six seasons with the Astros (2007) and Orioles (2010-14). He has an 8.10 ERA in nine appearances this season.
In December, Patton was suspended for the first 25 games of the season after his second positive test for amphetamines. He was reinstated from his suspension May 1.
This wasn't the first time Patton landed on the Padres' radar, Byrnes said.
"We actually talked a little bit about him during the offseason, when we were rebuilding our left-handed depth. It turned out this is where it matched up. Patton, I think, will be a good fit for us as a second lefty back there," Byrnes said. "With the current state of affairs with the injuries, we wanted an experienced arm."
Patton's best season with the Orioles came in 2012 when he posted a 2.43 ERA in 55 2/3 innings over 54 games. He had a 3.70 ERA in 56 games a year ago.
The Orioles needed a catcher after Matt Wieters landed on the disabled list on May 11 with a strain of the right elbow.
"This one sort of makes a lot of sense. Baltimore's right in the middle of a race, and their normal catcher got hurt. He'll [Hundley] be able to contribute more for them than he was doing for us. And obviously Patton can help us."
The Padres reportedly sent less than $2 million of the $4 million Hundley is owed this season. The Orioles will have a $5 million club option on Hundley to decide on after the regular season.
Patton is making $1.1 million this season and is still under team control for two more seasons.
Patton joins a bullpen which has the second-lowest ERA (2.17) in the Major Leagues going into play on Saturday, trailing only the Nationals (2.13).
Cashner takes step forward by playing catch
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't nearly as good as standing on a mound again, but pitcher Andrew Cashner took a notable step forward in his recovery from elbow soreness on Saturday when he played catch.
Cashner, who landed on the disabled list May 16 with soreness in his right elbow, played catch from 60 feet and then moved back past 90 feet. San Diego manager Bud Black said that if all goes well, and if Cashner feels fine Sunday, he will likely do the same in the coming days as he works his way back toward the active roster.
Cashner, who ranked eighth in the National League with a 2.35 ERA at the time of the injury, had an MRI on Monday that confirmed the original diagnosis. The team released a statement that said that Cashner would take the rest and rehabilitation path. At the time he was placed on the disabled list, Cashner was upbeat and optimistic at the time that this setback wasn't anything catastrophic.
"I think it just has some inflammation in it," he said. "Hopefully it's not more than 15 days. I think there was some extra soreness this time, but I'm not worried at all about my ligament. I have been cutting my fastball loose with no pain."