Baker assumes role of starting catcher

Baker assumes role of starting catcher

CINCINNATI -- Now that rookie Yasmani Grandal has landed on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, the bulk of the Padres catching duties falls squarely on the shoulders of John Baker.

And while he lamented the temporary loss of Grandal, Baker said he is embracing this opportunity to play every day.

"It's disappointing that a middle-of-the-order player [Grandal] got hurt, but I'm looking at this as the opportunity to play a lot more," Baker said. "I'm just excited."

Baker got the start behind the plate on Wednesday against the Reds, a night after he reached base on three occasions -- two hits and a walk -- in a 7-6 loss to the Reds.

Baker, who is hitting .266 this season, has seven hits in his last 15 at-bats and is coming off a month that saw him hit .308 in 26 at-bats. He'll get more work in August, as Grandal will miss a minimum of two weeks with the oblique injury.

"The more consistent at-bats I get, the better I hit the ball," Baker said.

San Diego manager Bud Black said he has no qualms about having Baker handle most of the catching duties. He's been impressed with his bat and his ability to handle the Padres pitching staff since Spring Training.

"What he's shown is what we can expect from John," Black said. "This is a good opportunity for him to play."