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Hedges gives Padres a lift in first game back

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Before Friday's series opener against Detroit, Austin Hedges didn't get to watch as much video on the Tigers as he normally would.

Instead, Hedges, the Padres' catcher, spent most of the afternoon on the training table, working to recover from a bruised right thigh he suffered Monday in a collision with Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

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SAN DIEGO -- Before Friday's series opener against Detroit, Austin Hedges didn't get to watch as much video on the Tigers as he normally would.

Instead, Hedges, the Padres' catcher, spent most of the afternoon on the training table, working to recover from a bruised right thigh he suffered Monday in a collision with Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

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The missed video didn't matter much. Armed with a scouting report from pitching coach Darren Balsley, Hedges caught San Diego's first shutout since April 19 and knocked in in the lone run in a 1-0 victory in his first game back to the lineup.

"It was awesome," Hedges said. "Any time you're gonna miss time, it stinks, so I just wanted to be back out there with my guys and, ending up getting a win, it was great to be back."

Hedges exited Monday's game and missed the next two, but with Cory Spangenberg on second base in the second inning Friday, Hedges stung a Michael Fulmer slider into right-center field to provide a run and lead that would stand up in the final score.

His greater value arguably came from the same place on the field he suffered his injury -- behind home plate. Padres starter Luis Perdomo was erratic early, depending on double plays to cage the Tigers in the first two frames.

"He does such a good job, for not just himself but the entire ballclub," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Perdomo was quick the first couple innings, kind of flying out, spinning off, and Austin does a great job. There's stuff that I don't think a lot of people even realize -- the feel to go out when he went out to settle him back down, help him find his rhythm again. … I don't think [Perdomo] gets through those first two innings unscathed if Austin's not back there.

"He does a lot more than just hit the baseball and catch the baseball."

Perdomo, despite issuing five walks in his first four innings, danced his way through six, holding Detroit to two hits with Hedges' guidance.

"He helps a lot," Perdomo said through a team interpreter. "We have really good communication, and I trust him a lot. I just let him take the reins."

Hedges admitted his thigh was not fully healed, but with team RBI leader Yangervis Solarte out for an unknown amount of time with a strained left oblique, it was clear San Diego needed him on the field when he was available.

"It's good enough to play," Hedges said.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

San Diego Padres, Austin Hedges