Yasmani Grandal's 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy has given Nick Hundley the opportunity to relaunch his catching career.
It was Hundley's terrible 2012 that triggered Grandal's sooner-than-expected promotion to the San Diego Padres. Grandal made the most of his chance.
Hundley was hitting .166 last June 29 when he was optioned to Class AAA Tucson, swapping roster spots with the then 23-year-old, switch-hitting Grandal, who hit .297 with eight homers and 36 RBI over 60 major league games.
However, Grandal tested positive for testosterone during a random test in September, and he will not be eligible to make his 2013 debut until May 28.
Grandal's suspension leaves Hundley and John Baker as the Padres' two available catchers with major league experience.
"You only get so many shots," Hundley said recently. "This is a big chance for me."
Hundley's 2012 season was an across-the-board disaster.
He went hitless in his first 21 at-bats. Just as he did get hot at the plate, he suffered a tear to the meniscus in his right knee on April 17 while moving to his right to block a Huston Street pitch in Colorado.
Hundley was in the midst of a 0-for-18 run in August when the Padres placed him on the disabled list due to the knee. He had knee surgery Aug. 29. He ended up with a .157 average and 56 strikeouts in 204 at-bats.
"I thought I could play through it," Hundley said of the knee injury. "I did everything I could to avoid surgery. I didn't want to throw in the towel, but neither the club or I knew how bad the knee was until after I came back up from Tucson in August."