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Black taking time assigning role to Stauffer

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Starter or reliever? Padres manager Bud Black said Saturday that there was no need right now to designate pitcher Tim Stauffer as one or the other.

"I view him as a pitcher that is trying to establish that he's healthy, to himself and to us," Black said. "That's the main thing, for him to feel that he's healthy and to feel good about his stuff and to make pitches that get Major League hitters out.

"It's too early to say where he's going to fit as we move through the spring and into early April."

Stauffer, coming off August surgery to repair the flexor bundle in his right elbow, tossed one scoreless inning Thursday and is scheduled to throw one inning Sunday against the White Sox.

Stauffer is in camp on a Minor League contract and is working to build his endurance. The Padres will gradually increase his workload but are intent on bringing him along slowly.

"I think there's a starting pitcher in there," Black said. "I think Stauffer thinks so, too. But we can't forget the great success he had from the bullpen in 2010, coming back from his shoulder [injury]. Right now, I don't want to put an expectation on Stauffer one way or the other."

Stauffer had a 3.94 ERA over parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues. He posted a 1.85 ERA over 32 games (including seven starts) in 2010 and was then the Padres' Opening Day starter in 2011. He went 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA in 31 starts that season.

"The important thing he wants is for us not to worry about the elbow and to treat him like a normal, healthy pitcher," Black said.

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