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Shoulder issues in past, Darnell eager to get started

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- At this point of his career, James Darnell would give just about anything to go through a season healthy -- from start to finish.

That's certainly the hope this season, as the 26-year-old third baseman/outfielder showed up at camp on Thursday ready to move on after having another season end with shoulder surgery.

"Everything is good to go," Darnell said.

Darnell hit .295 in Spring Training a year ago but was optioned to Triple-A Tucson. He joined the team in May after hitting .267 with seven home runs. But six days later, Darnell suffered a left shoulder subluxation while attempting to make a diving catch in left field.

After months of trying to rehabilitate the shoulder, the team opted to have Darnell undergo surgery in August. The operation was his second on the same shoulder. The first occurred in September 2011 after he dislocated it making a diving stop at third base earlier in the month.

Darnell said Thursday his shoulder feels stronger than ever.

"They did a great job. They tightened it to the point where it can't move around, in the front and back," Darnell said. "Both of [the injuries] were the result of playing hard, and that just happens. ... But you just keep going. It's behind me now. It feels really strong. All the muscles are strong."

Darnell, who owns a .299/.398/.508 line in parts of five Minor League seasons, faces a tall order in trying to make the 25-man Opening Day roster -- especially now that the Padres have asked infielder Logan Forsythe to take fly balls in the outfield, as well as ground balls at second base, shortstop and third base.

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