And while Stauffer looked poised to return in time for at least a handful of 2012 starts, a setback during last week's rehab stint may force him to look toward 2013 rather than push for a late-season return.
Originally on the DL with right elbow soreness, Stauffer was scheduled to make a second rehab start with Triple-A Tucson on Thursday and appeared to be on the precipice of a Major League return. But during some between-start work earlier this week (Stauffer pitched three innings in Tucson last Saturday), he felt soreness in his pitching shoulder and was sent back to San Diego.
"He's not feeling well," Padres manager Bud Black said. "His shoulder acted up a little bit; his elbow's still a little bit sore. ... There's no doubt this is a setback for him."
This would be the second failed comeback attempt for Stauffer, who made it all the way back to the big leagues in May, only to be placed right back on the DL after the soreness returned in a May 14 start against the Nationals.
Given that he threw 185 2/3 innings, struck out 128 and pitched to a 3.73 ERA in 2011, and considering how close he's come to reclaiming that major role in the San Diego rotation this year, it's not surprising that Stauffer and the Padres are frustrated to have another comeback attempt stymied by lingering injury.
"For Tim and all of us, it's been a frustrating year healthwise," Black said. "He tried to ramp it back up, worked awful hard to try to get in a position to go out on rehab, and there's something physically wrong, and it's a bummer, it really is."
"It might be [a situation where we shut him down for the year]. ... We're going to exhaust all the medical opinions ... do everything we can for Tim to make sure the road we take is the right one," Black added. "This is a tough one based on what time of the year it is and the couple times he's tried to come back and it hasn't worked out."