Return to hill has Stauffer thrilled but cautious

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The first group of Padres pitchers threw off a mound on Wednesday during the first workout for pitchers and catchers.

Tim Stauffer was among those participating, and he couldn't have been happier about it.

For Stauffer, limited to five innings in 2012 because of right elbow soreness and subsequent surgery, this was the first time back on a mound since last August, during a Minor League rehabilitation stint that eventually led to Aug. 31 surgery to repair a flexor tendon.

When he signed a Minor League contract with the Padres earlier this month, Stauffer said he was about two weeks behind his usual throwing program.

"We'll ease into it a little more than normal," Stauffer said. "At this point, it's tough to gauge. We will just have to see how it goes. But right now, everything is going along as planned."

Stauffer, who will earn $1 million if he makes the 25-man roster, has incentives that could add $1.25 million to his deal, based on the number of games he starts. If Stauffer is not on the 25-man roster by June 1, he can be released if he requests to be, or the team has 48 hours to add him to the roster.