Notes: Rotation a work in progress

Padres notes: Confusion in rotation

SAN DIEGO -- As game time approached Monday night for the opener of a big series with the National League West-leading Dodgers at PETCO Park, the Padres welcomed back Tim Stauffer and began prepping the 24-year-old right-hander for a start that Chan Ho Park was forced to vacate with health concerns.

"Good to see you, Stauffer," center fielder Mike Cameron said. "Are you nervous?"

Stauffer, the 2003 first-round pick from the University of Richmond, grinned.

Park was being examined by the medical staff, having experienced a recurrence earlier in the day of the intestinal bleeding that required three transfusions and had him on the disabled list from July 26 through Aug. 11.

Stauffer had hopped a 1:50 p.m. flight from Portland, where he has spent the season with the Triple-A Beavers going 6-12 with a 5.07 ERA in 25 games, 24 as a starter.

The Sarasota Springs, N.Y., native was hoping to replicate his performance in his Major League debut in 2005, when he beat the Reds, giving up two runs in six innings in Cincinnati.

"I'd be happy with five innings tonight [from Stauffer]," general manager Kevin Towers said. "Stauffer has had some success here in the past. We thought he'd give us our best chance to win a ballgame.

"Sometimes situations like this, that are somewhat dire, can kind of bring a team together. [Sunday's] a good example. The bullpen did a tremendous job beating a good [Arizona] team. We're challenged again today. If somehow we can get through today, we'll worry about [Tuesday]."

Towers said the first choice to replace Park would have been Brian Sweeney, who'd pitched capably in middle relief for the Padres in the first half. But Sweeney pitched seven innings for Portland in a win over Salt Lake on Monday night.

Dewon Brazelton, who is 5-4 with a 3.13 ERA in Portland, is not on the 40-man roster. His activation would have required a move not necessary to promote Stauffer.

Optioned to Portland to create room for Stauffer was reliever Jon Adkins, who is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA and worked two scoreless innings in Sunday's 2-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

Sorting it out: Manager Bruce Bochy, his head spinning, was trying to remain optimistic. In the wake of injuries that took Clay Hensley [strained left glute] and Chris Young [strained upper back muscle] out of their starts in the final two games with Arizona, Bochy conceded, "three consecutive days [of early exits or scratched starters] ... that's borderline ridiculous."

Bochy was secure in the knowledge that Jake Peavy would pitch Tuesday night and Woody Williams would go on Wednesday night in the series finale. But beyond that, he said he was unsure how the rotation would shake out when the Padres hit the road for six games with the Rockies and Diamondbacks, starting Friday night in Denver.

"That's bad luck -- horrible luck -- to have three starters go down," Bochy said. "The last two [Hensley and Young] have been on the same day [as they were to pitch] -- no notice."

Hensley returned on Sunday and pitched four innings in relief of Young, who departed after the first inning.

All of a sudden, emergency starter Mike Thompson looks close to a fixture in the rotation -- and he's not even on the 25-man roster. Thompson is expected to be activated for a start in Denver with either Park or Young going on the disabled list, according to Towers.

"That's our MVP right there," veteran reliever Doug Brocail said as Thompson ambled by in the clubhouse.

Making progress: Both Hensley and Young reported improvement on Tuesday. Neither pitcher is sure how they sustained their ailments.

"I'm feeling better, but it's still a little sore," Hensley said.

Young felt a cramping in the right rhomboid muscle warming up on Sunday, and tried to work through it before he was forced to exit after pitching one inning. The rhomboid muscle at the back of the shoulder connects the scapula to the spine.

"It feels a little better than I anticipated," Young said. "We'll know more [Tuesday or Wednesday]. Everything in there is still sore, but less than [Sunday]. I'm aware of all the muscles in the back; it's what I do for a living. I spend a lot of time strengthening it in the offseason.

"I've pitched with pain and discomfort before, but when all the muscles went in protection mode and started cramping to protect the area where I originally felt it, I wasn't able to throw. There was no sharp pain. If I had felt sharp pain, I would have called the trainers instantly."

Young felt his stuff was as good as it's been all year in the bullpen and was frustrated he wasn't able to continue.

"Maybe I overexerted on a pitch," he said. "I have no way of explaining it. Hopefully, I'll be able to throw as soon as possible and it won't be a problem.

"I think Clay's going to be fine. With Chan Ho, hopefully they'll find an answer and he'll be back, and hopefully this is a minor thing for me. Hopefully, it will go from pretty bleak to optimistic when we see how things shake out in the next few days."

Up in the air: As for Park, durable and productive in 19 starts before his intestinal bleeding surfaced, Bochy said, "Yeah, there is a lot of concern. If it gets to the point where we don't think he should pitch, he won't pitch."

Park, 7-7 with a 4.68 ERA, had gone five innings in a loss at Houston and 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against San Francisco since returning. He had beaten the Dodgers, his original club, 7-3 at Dodger Stadium on July 25 -- two days before the illness caused him to leave Denver for a round of exams in San Diego.

"He developed similar symptoms with the bleeding," said Bochy, who was informed of Park's discomfort at 10:30 a.m. on Monday. "He was losing some blood, and we're trying to figure out what's going on."

Bochy said he didn't want to move Peavy up on three days' rest with short notice, and that he didn't think anyone from the bullpen could go more than a few innings.

Coming up: Peavy (6-12, 4.55) faces Dodgers left-hander Mark Hendrickson (1-5, 5.19) on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.