Eckstein, Blanco 'very close' to returning

Eckstein, Blanco 'close' to returning

SAN DIEGO -- With numerous Padres on the mend from injuries, the team's upcoming eight-game road swing could feature the return of at least two key players.

Second baseman David Eckstein and veteran catcher Henry Blanco, both recovering from strained right hamstrings, performed field workouts Wednesday at PETCO Park under the watchful eye of manager Bud Black.

"They're doing well," Black said. "They're getting very close."

How close is "very close?" Black wasn't ready to pinpoint a return date, instead saying that both could be back within a couple of days. The Padres face Philadelphia on Thursday in a makeup game and then travel to Washington and Cincinnati to complete the road swing.

Blanco went on the disabled list July 5 and has missed 14 games. Eckstein has missed 13 games since going on the disabled list July 6.

Catcher Nick Hundley is also showing signs of progress in recovering from his strained left wrist. Hundley played catch Wednesday for the first time since going on the disabled list June 19. He's also been swinging a fungo bat, which is a lighter bat that eases the strain on his wrist.

Padres second baseman Edgar Gonzalez, who went on the disabled list after being hit in the head by a pitch Saturday, visited teammates in the clubhouse before Wednesday's game.

Gonzalez was carted off the field and taken to the hospital after the incident, which instantly sent him to the ground.

He walked around Wednesday without his neck brace, saying that he was allowed to remove it from time-to-time. Gonzalez has been wearing the brace to minimize his vertigo symptoms.

Gonzalez hasn't received an update about the hearing in his left ear, which was at 80 percent after the accident. Gonzalez, who will not make the road trip, will undergo tests next week to see if his hearing has improved.

Amy Brittain is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.