Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer is one such hurler this spring, as he was shut down late last week because of what manager Bud Black termed a "cranky shoulder." Stauffer said he expects to be checked out Wednesday and hopes thereafter to resume throwing.
"I want to be out there," Stauffer said. "You work all offseason to get it in shape, and to have a setback is a little frustrating."
Stauffer, 25, is one of the competitors to be the fifth starter and can only wait and hope he will return to Cactus League action in time to make himself a viable option for Opening Day. If he's out too long, he might not have enough chances to impress, and he might not be able to get stretched out to a starter's preferred length. It's currently too early to assign a timetable to his return.
"He's just doing a lot of rehab stuff right now," bench coach Craig Colbert said.
Stauffer, the fourth overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft by the Padres, has had an up-and-down professional career. He's 29-27 with a 4.34 ERA in the Minor Leagues and 4-7 with a 6.37 ERA with the Padres, including 18 runs allowed in two starts last year.
But his work at Triple-A Portland last year showed progress, and he went 3-0 in August with a 1.00 ERA. He was 8-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 25 games, but in his 20 starts his ERA was 3.83.
"I think I learned quite a bit last year," Stauffer said, such as devising different ways to cope if one or another of his pitches isn't working on a given day.
Because he throws his fastball in the mid-80s range, Stauffer has always given up plenty of base hits, but he has never walked many batters. As he sees it, contact is nothing to shy away from, although he nonetheless averaged a respectable 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings last year at Portland.
"A strikeout pitcher has a few less cheap hits fall in than I do, but for every cheap hit, you get an early double play or something like that," Stauffer said.
Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.