SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not just Nick Hundley's batting average that has been on the rise since an 0-for-21 start, but his line-drive rate is trending upward, as well.
Entering Saturday's game against the Giants, the Padres catcher had a 17.8 percent line-drive rate, which is still down from 21.2 percent a year ago. Also, his fly-ball rate (44.4 percent) is higher than 2011 (37.5).
But as Hundley said Saturday, he thinks he's making inroads toward hitting more line drives than fly balls. Three of his four hits on Friday qualified as line drives.
"You could say that's coming back to where it needs to be," Hundley said.
That's because Hundley is 15 for his last 38 (.395) after tying his career high with four hits in the Padres' 5-3 victory over the Giants on Friday.
He's squared more balls up during this recent stretch and has even gotten a few bloops to fall in for hits -- something that didn't often happen during a fitful stretch at the plate to start the season.
His fourth hit Friday was a bloop single to center field in the seventh inning, and it came as the result of a good swing, going with a sinker down and away.
"I put a good swing on it," said Hundley, who also broke his bat on the play. "If I take a bad swing, then I roll over on it and hit into a double play."
Improved Tekotte arrives as Hermida hits DL
SAN FRANCISCO -- As excited as outfielder Blake Tekotte was on Saturday to join the Padres, he didn't come into the visiting clubhouse at AT&T Park feeling wide-eyed in the least.
Tekotte -- who was recalled Saturday from Triple-A Tucson -- said that he feels he's better able to handle a stint in the big leagues after having two a year ago with the team.
"Now it's more like I'm ready to get going," Tekotte said.
He'll likely need to be, especially after the Padres recalled him after placing outfielder Jeremy Hermida on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left adductor and hip flexor.
"It just wasn't getting any better," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Hermida was hitting .250 in 24 at-bats but led the team with four pinch-hits. Hermida indicated that the pain in his groin area started late in Spring Training and that the training staff had been able to prepare him for games.
Recently, though, Hermida said the areas of pain had "moved" more into the groin area. He was fine to hit, but it pained him greatly to run.
"It sort of moved spots and got to the point where I couldn't play and be helpful to the team," Hermida said. "It's always frustrating. But looking at the bright side, and we want to take care of this so that I can come back and help contribute."
As for the 24-year-old Tekotte, he was hitting .278 in his first 79 at-bats with Tucson. Of his first 22 hits, 11 went for extra bases. He also had three stolen bases while playing center field nearly every day. He hit .176 in 34 at-bats with the Padres last season.
Just not Friday, though, as Tekotte got a day off while the team was playing in Sacramento. When he got to Raley Field in West Sacramento in the afternoon, Tucson manager Terry Kennedy informed him that he was headed to San Francisco, which is about a 90-minute drive.
This isn't just Tekotte's third stint in the big leagues, he's also working on his third uniform number. He wore No. 15 when he was recalled last May, but when he came up again in August, Jesus Guzman was wearing it. So he wore No. 23. That now belongs to Yonder Alonso. On Saturday, Tekotte found No. 9 tucked inside his locker.
Pinch-hitters doing their jobs in a big way
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Diego manager Bud Black sounded a little bit surprised on Saturday when he was told by a reporter that his pinch-hitters were hitting .419 with 13 hits in 21 games.
"That's pretty damned good," Black said. "If you project that out over a season, I'll take that right now. It used to be if you go 1-for-4 as a pinch-hitter, then that was pretty good."
The Padres saw their top pinch-hitter, Jeremy Hermida, go on the disabled list on Saturday with a strained left adductor and hip flexor. Hermida has four pinch-hits thus far, although Jesus Guzman (three), Chris Denorfia (two), Mark Kotsay (two), Yonder Alonso (one) and Andy Parrino (one) have contributed as well.
"It's a good start for our guys," Black said.
One of the biggest areas the Padres wanted to address in the offseason was beefing up the bench to give Black more options -- offensively and defensively.
A year ago, Padres pinch-hitters hit .161 with 38 hits.