Padres Catcher Austin Hedges Responds to Backlash Over Photo Showing Him Without Mask

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A storm of sorts erupted on Twitter last month when a tweet appeared showing San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges at a social gathering without a mask.

Public health experts say facial coverings are paramount in curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the agreement to return and try to finish the 2020 season, Major League Baseball is encouraging its players to wear them as much as possible.

 Monday, Hedges made his first public comments since the photo emerged.

“Sadly, like in a lot of situations in life where you haven’t been through it, it takes failing before you learn from it," he told the media at a summer camp news conference. "I obviously made a mistake and I am not going to do that again.”

Soon after the photo emerged, Hedges addressed the issue in meetings with Padre players, coaches and management.

Padre manager Jayce Tingler said Hedges admitted he made a mistake.

“He owned it. I’m proud of the way he owned, handled it and addressed his teammates and moved forward. I’m proud of that and we all look to be better going forward," the skipper said.

Hedges added, “I take a lot of pride in taking ownership when you screw up, whether you did it on purpose or not, things happen you don’t always make the wisest decisions, but all we can do is learn from it and grow and not make that mistake twice.”

Hedges is the Padres MLB players union representative, so his words and actions take on an added responsibility during this COVID-19 impacted season.

“All the guys have my back and I have their back, and they know that I would never put them in harms way. Now, it’s up to me to hold other guys accountable because when it comes down to it the most healthy team at the end of this year might be the world champ because they didn’t get sick. So, I’m taking a lot pride in holding these guys accountable so they don’t make the same mistake.”

Looking at the bigger picture, with regards to Padres season and the possible impact of California’s second round of COVID-19 shutdowns, Tingler said it’s something the team is keeping an eye on.

“I think we all know there are going to be a lot of things beyond our control. The one thing we learned in 2020 is things are changing very quickly, each day is new.”

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