Nearly two years ago, outside the windows of the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, dawn had begun to overtake darkness and, still, Nick Hundley had not slept. Inside a building renowned for paranormal disturbances, Hundley was haunted by the shell of his own self.

The Padres were 19 games out of first place. Hundley, their starting catcher, was all out of sorts, his batting average a fathom below .200, his season headed for a demotion to the minors and, eventually, knee surgery. It was a night, Hundley later said, he will always remember.

“You go through different areas in your life,” Hundley said Tuesday, “and you have some times where you think, ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna play this game much longer.’ And you go through times where you feel like you’re the best player in the league. It’s all about learning and growing.”

Standing in the same clubhouse as he had that June, living in the same hotel where he had passed that restless night, Hundley might be facing his greatest challenge yet.

Mere months removed from a season in which he played more than ever, he has started just four of the Padres’ first 21 games. He entered Monday’s game with the Brewers hitting .333, but his at-bats have been sporadic, often arriving in a pinch. He has become the odd man out as Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera forge ahead in what may not long remain a three-catcher rotation.

The Padres are in active discussions with teams regarding Hundley, the U-T has learned.

And, still, Hundley soldiers on. He is a veteran devoted to his craft, however tenuous the situation may be. He has long since discovered, that June night and at various other points, the futility of wondering about the unknown.

“I’ve been around this game too long to speculate on things like that,” Hundley said. “Those are decisions that are outside of my pay grade. As an employee of the San Diego Padres, it’s my job to prepare and to help us win. That’s my only job. Whether I’m a Padre for my entire career or not, it’s an irrelevant fact. The only important thing is I come prepared to help us win.”

For the Padres, who carried a 9-11 record into Tuesday, their pursuit of greater success will soon force a decision. Cameron Maybin is set to return from the disabled list next month, if not as early as the current road trip, and Carlos Quentin, who began running on the field in San Diego on Tuesday, is not far behind. Even as Grandal moves ever closer to catching back-to-back days, the activation of an outfielder will end the three-catcher configuration.

What the Padres could get in return for Hundley, who is making $4 million in the final season of a three-year contract, is unclear. They could use a utility infielder, as Triple-A El Paso’s Ryan Jackson is out indefinitely with a right wrist sprain. At the big-league level, Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera have dealt with ailments of their own. Jackson would have been the first player promoted if either of those two starters missed an extended amount of time. Tuesday, the Padres acquired minor league infielder Tyler Greene from the Braves for a player to be named later, but that move was made, in Jackson’s absence, purely for organizational depth.