WASHINGTON -- After a slow start at the plate, Jesus Guzman, who was the Padres' top hitter in the second half of 2011, appears to be finding his swing.
Entering Tuesday's game against the Nationals, Guzman was hitting .438 in his last five games, with four RBIs and three multihit games. Overall, he was hitting .277 with 14 RBIs.
"I think Guzy had maybe some self-imposed high expectations based on last year, tried to do too much, tried to really add on to what he did last year," Padres manager Bud Black said recently.
"I think now we are seeing more of Guzy, a little more loose, little bit more relaxed in the box, swinging at strikes, taking balls, bat speed has picked up a little bit, much better."
A year ago, Guzman had a .312 batting average, 13th best among all National League players from June 16 on. He also flourished with runners in scoring position (.431) and with runners in scoring position and two outs (.444), in addition to 23 multihit games.
Hundley showing skills at nabbing basestealers
WASHINGTON -- Catcher Nick Hundley entered Tuesday's game against the Nationals as the Major League leader in nabbing would-be basestealers, with 12 this season.
There are several factors why Hundley is posting a career-best 36.4 caught-stealing percentage, though it has little to do with how quickly he's able to deliver a throw to a defender ahead of a basestealer.
"We've worked with [pitchers] who are slower to the plate ... tried to speed them up," said manager Bud Black. "[Bench coach Rick Renteria] has worked with Nick on situations, and [special assistant] Brad Ausmus has worked with Nick on fundamentals, improving his accuracy."
Black said Hundley -- who didn't get the start Tuesday, a day game after a night game -- has made some big strides in slowing down and not rushing himself. The team has preached for Hundley to have good fundamentals, telling him that if he does that, everything else should take care of itself.
Hundley's 36.4 percent mark is the best during a career that started in 2008. In 2011, it was 30 percent, with marks of 21 percent in '10 and 15 percent in '09, which marked the first season he caught more than 70 games.
"I've put a lot of work into it, and I'm getting to a point where I've caught a lot of games, knowing what I want to do and not try too much," Hundley said. "When I was younger, I tried to force things. Now I'm letting it come to me, being smoother and under control."
Headley concerned about Nats' Leon
WASHINGTON -- A day after Padres third baseman Chase Headley collided with Nationals catcher Sandy Leon, Headley was still thinking about the incident at the plate that led to Leon -- who was making his Major League debut -- being placed on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain.
Headley tried to reach out to Leon late Monday, but wasn't able to. He passed along a message to the catcher, though.
"We called over there while I was with [head trainer Todd Hutcheson] to try and get a hold of him," Headley said. "Hutch kept trying. Hopefully they passed along the message. It's such an unfortunate thing, but it wasn't a dirty play."
Headley collided with Leon as the catcher blocked the plate in the Padres' three-run fourth inning of an 8-5 loss to the Nationals. Headley scored on a two-run single by Orlando Hudson, but only after bowling over Leon, who had to be helped from the field.
"Coming in, you intend to slide until there's nowhere to go," Headley said. "He really left me nowhere to go. You hope that he's going to be OK. It's a bummer to have that happen in your debut."