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Hedges' return could force a tough call at catcher

Notes on Lyles, Renfroe, Jankowski, Reyes and Yates
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Austin Hedges could soon be ready to rejoin the Padres after being on the disabled list since May 1 with right elbow tendinitis.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Austin Hedges could soon be ready to rejoin the Padres after being on the disabled list since May 1 with right elbow tendinitis.

But that creates something of a problem. During the absence of Hedges, veteran A.J. Ellis and Raffy Lopez have filled in admirably. And with the outfield being even more crowded than catcher, it does not appear the Padres will carry three catchers.

Lopez can be returned to Triple-A El Paso, while the 37-year-old Ellis would have to to be designated for assignment. More than several teams are looking for veteran catching help.

Here is a look at Ellis and Lopez since Hedges departed the April 28 game with elbow soreness.

Ellis, who is widely respected for his handling of pitchers, is hitting .386 (22-for-57) since Hedges was hurt -- with five doubles, a home run, eight walks, nine RBIs and six runs scored. He is 6-for-13 during an active six-game hitting streak. During Hedges' absence, Ellis has a .462 on-base percentage and a .526 slugging percentage for a .988 OPS.

Lopez has hit only .180, but he has been solid behind the plate. He has three home runs, 12 RBIs, nine runs scored and nine walks for the season.

Notebook

• Righty Jordan Lyles allowed one run on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts over seven innings on Saturday night to become the first Padres pitcher since Drew Pomeranz in 2016 to lose a game in which he allowed only one run over seven or more innings. Lyles has lost three straight starts. In the two outings before Saturday night, he allowed 12 runs on 22 hits in 10 1/3 innings.

• Outfielder Hunter Renfroe is hitting .313 (15-for-48) since returning from the disabled list on May 28. He has six doubles, a pinch-hit grand slam homer, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and seven walks with only 10 strikeouts -- good for a .400 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage (.900 OPS).

• Two other Padres outfielders are slumping. Right fielder Franmil Reyes struck out in all four at-bats Saturday night, and is 5-for-26 (.192) since June 5 -- with two doubles, no RBIs and 13 strikeouts. Outfielder Travis Jankowski is 5-for-31 since June 6 with one walk for a .161 average and .188 on-base percentage.

• Right-hander Kirby Yates worked another scoreless inning on Saturday. Over his last seven appearances, Yates has allowed no runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in eight innings -- lowering his ERA to 0.97, the fifth-best mark among Major League relievers.

San Diego Padres, A.J. Ellis, Austin Hedges, Raffy Lopez