"When it first happened, I wasn't sure [when I would return], because for the first two weeks, it didn't get any better," Thatcher said on Saturday. "There was a possibility I wouldn't make it back."
But after more than a month of rest and rehabilitation, the Padres reinstated the left-handed reliever from the disabled list before Saturday's game against the Rockies.
"[Trainer Todd Hutcheson] and those guys did a great job," Thatcher said.
Thatcher has been told that his knee will still require surgery after the season and fairly quickly -- not because he's getting married in December, but because the recovery rate is four months.
"We'll get it fixed," Thatcher said. "They'll go in and removed the damaged tendon and staple the healthy parts together."
Before going on the disabled list, Thatcher was 0-4 with a 3.42 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. The team now has two left-handed relievers in the bullpen, along with rookie Tommy Layne. Left-handed batters are hitless in 17 at-bats against Layne in his first 11 games in the big leagues.
"We feel good about those two," Padres manager Bud Black said of Thatcher and Layne. "But it's good to have Joe back. He feels good about the knee. Joe really wanted to come back."