SAN FRANCISCO -- With each passing day, Khalil Greene is one day closer to returning to action. But his return remains more than just a matter of days away. So he just does what he can do, whether it's taking grounders with just his glove hand or swinging the bat with just his left hand, keeping his fractured right ring finger out of harm's way. "I'm physically fine to play," Greene said Tuesday. "It's not like I'm just going to sit around on the couch and watch the games. I do what everybody else does."
Well, other than play, that is. That's still a couple of weeks off. The Padres shortstop is on the same timetable set when he suffered the broken finger April 16, which means his return is slated for mid-May. But Monday marked one of the small but significant steps along the road. For the first time since the injury, Greene played catch. "I just lobbed it," Greene said. Padres manager Bruce Bochy said it was a little more than that, even if it was only a small step in Greene's recovery process. "He was throwing it pretty good," Bochy said. "He wasn't airing it out, but he was playing catch like it wasn't hurting him too much." Greene said there hasn't been much pain from the beginning. He was injured when an errant throw by catcher Ramon Hernandez popped up off the Dodger Stadium infield dirt and clipped the finger on his exposed right hand. While Geoff Blum is keeping his place warm with solid play in the field and at the plate, Greene will continue to do what he can do. He'll be re-examined when the Padres return home for their six-game homestand that begins Friday, and it's possible the splint could be removed during that time. Until then, it's the same routine for Greene. "When they tell me to start doing more stuff, I'll start doing it," Greene said. Nevin rested: With Phil Nevin having started each of the first 20 games and Mark Sweeney having started none, Bochy saw an opportunity for Tuesday's lineup card. Bochy put Sweeney in at first, batting seventh, moving Ryan Klesko and Ramon Hernandez up a spot to fourth and fifth, respectively. That leaves second baseman Mark Loretta as the only Padres player to start all 21 games, and Brian Giles matches him with playing in all 21 after pinch-hitting when he didn't start Sunday. Bochy said he intends to give the Padres' veteran players ample time off, and that includes Loretta -- who played in 154 games each of the last two seasons. "They'll all get a day here and there," Bochy said.
On the flip side, Giles is among those players who consider games played as one of the most important numbers a player can accumulate, because it leads to all the others. "You want to be ready to play every day," Giles said. "That's how you put up numbers. You can't put up numbers if you're not playing or if you're on the DL. I expect to be out there every day, and I think my teammates expect the same thing." Late-innings adjustment: When Scott Linebrink pitched the eighth inning Monday night and Akinori Ostuka did not, that did not signal any kind of change in role for the Padres' setup tandem, Bochy said. While Bochy considers both setup men, the standard approach remains Linebrink in the seventh and Otsuka in the eighth. As for Monday's situation, Bochy said it was an effort to conserve Otsuka. Since Linebrink was already warming up in the seventh inning, Bochy brought him in for the eighth and didn't have Otsuka warm up in the bullpen at all. "That's a way to give one guy a complete day off," Bochy said. Anna in the house: Tennis celebrity Anna Kournikova will be making an appearance at PETCO Park on Friday with a baseball in her hand instead of a tennis ball. Kournikova will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Diamondbacks-Padres game as part of the National Boys' and Girls' Club conference being held in San Diego this weekend. On deck: Tim Redding will make his fourth start as the Padres' fifth starter Wednesday, hoping for better results than his last two. Redding (0-3, 6.59 ERA) took a tough loss in his first outing but has struggled in his last two, lasting just 3 1/3 innings at Arizona on Friday. He'll take on veteran lefty Kirk Rueter (0-2, 7.20 ERA) in a 12:35 p.m. PT start.
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John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.