Hensley may pitch from mound soon

Hensley may pitch from mound soon

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Clay Hensley, recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, could begin throwing off a mound next week.

Hensley has been throwing only on flat ground this spring, including a long-toss session Friday, but he is ready to amp up his regimen.

"I'd say we're probably three-quarters of the way there," Hensley said. "Now I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Hensley has been a quiet presence in the Padres' clubhouse this spring, but only two years ago, his impact as a starter was hard to miss. He was 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA in 2006, but fell back to 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA last year, in part because of constant the shoulder issue, which was surgically repaired in September.

"It killed me last year," Hensley said. "It got to the point where it hurt when I was brushing my teeth."

The pain was so persistent that it wasn't until after his surgery that he realized just how high the pain threshold had gotten during last year. Now, Hensley is hoping to return early in the regular season.

Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.