PEORIA, Ariz. -- Catcher Jason Hagerty is no stranger to first base, though when he arrived in Peoria last month for the start of Spring Training, he wasn't thinking about the position at all.

But with five other catchers in big league camp -- Austin Hedges, Nick Hundley, Yasmani Grandal, Eddy Rodriguez and John Baker -- the Padres asked Hagerty to take some reps at first base in practice.

Also, with James Darnell nursing a sore right oblique, the Padres were down to Yonder Alonso, Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks at first base. Hagerty has given them some depth there.

That has led to playing time at first base in Cactus League games, where the ball has already found him on several occasions.

"It's been fun," Hagerty said.

Hagerty said he played first base some in college at the University of Miami (2007-09) before the Padres drafted him in the fifth round in 2009. In fact, his time at first base in college came in his last season as former Hurricane Grandal got most of the time behind the plate.

Hagerty played eight games at first base that summer for short-season Eugene, five games at Class A Fort Wayne in 2010 and 10 games at first base in two Minor League stops the following season.

But Hagerty didn't catch a single game last season with Double-A San Antonio.

"It's a little bit different, because I haven't done it much," Hagerty said. "But I've been getting reps there in practice, so once you get the feeling back, it's a lot easier."

Despite the abundance of playing time at first base, Hagerty, who has a .273/.377/.442 line over his first four seasons, hasn't given up on his true position.

"Catching is still what I love to do," Hagerty said. "But whatever way I can get up [to the big leagues], I'll do it."

Kotsay a veteran of great spring numbers

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With three hits Saturday, Padres outfielder Mark Kotsay raised his Cactus League batting average to a robust .800 in 10 at-bats, which essentially rates as a miniscule sample-size.

It also means next to nothing to Kotsay, 37.

"I don't [weigh] the Spring Training numbers," Kotsay said Sunday. "I've had great springs before and I've gotten off to bad starts in April. For me, it's just focusing on the approach."

Kotsay trails only Kyle Blanks (nine hits) among those hitters in camp, and while he's not dissatisfied with his start, he's not going to read too much into it.

"It's having a quality plate appearance and how my body feels ... that's it," Kotsay said. "So far, so good. I'm just trying to stay consistent and focus on the approach."

While with the White Sox in 2010, Kotsay hit .382 in the spring with 21 hits. The following spring with the Brewers, he hit .340 with 17 hits. Last season, he hit .345 with 10 hits for the Padres, his second tour of duty with the team.

"For him, I think he had a good offseason, feels good physically, is in a good place mentally," said Padres manager Bud Black. "So to have it translate into base hits in spring is a good thing."

Darnell still out with mild oblique injury

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Outfielder/infielder James Darnell is sidelined with a sore right oblique, according to San Diego manager Bud Black.

Darnell, in big league camp trying to win a bench job, has two hits in 10 at-bats in Cactus League games but hasn't played since Feb. 25 against the Brewers.

"It's more mild than severe," Black said.

There's no timetable as to when Darnell will return to games. Because his injury left the Padres with just three other players who can play first base -- Yonder Alonso, Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks -- Minor League catcher Jason Hagerty has been asked to fill in at first base on occasion.

Darnell had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in August, and he had surgery on the shoulder capsule the previous year as well.

Short hops

• The Padres will play a 'B' game, which won't count in the Cactus League standings, at 10 a.m. PT on Monday on a backfield in Peoria. This will give some of the younger pitchers in camp a chance to throw in a game. Jose De Paula will start and will be followed by Miles Mikolas and Johnny Barbato. The lineup will consist of mostly Minor Leaguers, such as infielder Cory Spangenberg.