Hamstrung Hedges still connecting with staff

Padres catcher has been sidelined since Thursday with hamstring tightness

March 12th, 2017
Austin Hedges is having a great spring at the plate, hitting .474 (9-for 19) with three extra-base hits. (AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A tight left hamstring is the only thing that has managed to cool a red-hot this spring.

The Padres catcher -- arguably the club's most impressive Cactus League performer -- has been sidelined since Thursday, when he felt some tightness while legging out a grounder to first base.

But even when he's not playing, there's work to be done. Throughout his career, Hedges has drawn rave reviews for his work with pitching staffs in the Padres' Minor League system. The process of building those relationships continues when he's banged up.

"I keep the conversations going here in the clubhouse," Hedges said. "I'll be out at practice today, I'll still catch bullpens, still talk to them. I keep in continuous conversations. Even if I'm not catching them, I'm talking to them about what they're working on."

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Hedges took part in most of Padres practice on Sunday, aside from some running drills. His return to the lineup doesn't appear far off.

In eight games this spring, Hedges is hitting .474 (9-for 19) with three doubles, and he's thrown out four runners on the basepaths. But arguably his most important job this spring is building a rapport with a pitching staff full of new faces.

"He's very invested in the pitchers," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He cares about their success like it's his own success. He's doing all the right things."

While the hamstring tightness lingers, Hedges is doing everything he can off the diamond to prepare for the regular season. Unsurprisingly, though, he'd rather be on the field.

"Whenever you're missing time, it's frustrating," Hedges said. "But I just try to treat it as a positive and take these last couple days to rest up the body. Hopefully we can finish out the spring strong. But I'm just looking forward to coming back."

News and notes

• Rule 5 right-hander has a blister on his pitching hand and is being held out of games temporarily. He's one of two Padres with blister issues, as remains out with one on his big toe. Spangenberg should return after Tuesday's off-day.

• Alex Dickerson (back stiffness) will play left field on Monday for the first time this spring. He went 1-for-2 with a walk as the designated hitter on Saturday. was originally expected to start Monday, but he continued to feel some tightness in his left oblique during Sunday's workout and will be held back.

made his spring catching debut during the final three innings of Sunday's loss to Cleveland. The Padres haven't given Bethancourt many reps behind the plate this spring, as he attempts to transition into a pitcher/catcher hybrid. His focus has understandably been on pitching, a new position for the hard-throwing right-hander.

• Right-hander has started playing catch, as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery he had last November. The right-hander is still slated to miss the entire 2017 season.