MESA, Ariz. -- When you've spent virtually an entire season on the disabled list, any day that you're healthy enough to pitch is a good day. Tim Stauffer made his third appearance of the spring on Sunday, and he said that he felt healthy and strong despite allowing four earned runs.
Stauffer, who made just one big league start last year before being shut down with an elbow problem, has continued to demonstrate that he's back to where he was before the injury. Padres manager Bud Black was pleased with the way Stauffer threw and encouraged to see him throw again.
"I thought his stuff was good. I thought his stuff was fine," said Black of Stauffer's outing. "I thought his stuff was better than the first two outings, so that's a really good sign for Stauff."
Stauffer breezed through his first inning of work, allowing just a one-out single to Nate Schierholtz. The bottom fell out in the second inning, though, as the Cubs rallied for four runs on a two-out double by Alfonso Soriano and a two-run home run over the right-field fence by Dioner Navarro.
The results may not have been perfect, said Stauffer, but he's still working on sharpening his pitches and refining his feel for the game. All in all, he said, it was just good to get his work in.
"Get ahead and execute early in the first inning. The second inning was kind of the opposite," said Stauffer. "I was falling behind, hitter's counts, and a few pitches up over the plate. It's tough to pitch and do well that way. I got behind from the get-go and it makes it a little tougher to get guys out."
Stauffer, the fourth overall choice in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, made 31 starts in his breakout season of 2011, but he followed that up with a year spent on the sidelines. The right-hander had surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon late last season after throwing just five innings for the Padres.
"It was tough. You ask anybody that's been hurt or played hurt or been on the DL -- it's not fun," he said. "You want to be out on the field playing. Sitting around watching is not what we're here to do. It's just nice to be here going through a normal spring and to be treated like a normal ballplayer."
The Padres have seen Stauffer thrive in limited doses in the big leagues, and they think he can still have a strong career ahead of him as long as he stays healthy. For now, they want Stauffer to take the ball every fifth day and keep progressing through the end of the exhibition season.
"It looks as though he's regaining some of his arm strength. He's regaining the action on his pitches," said Black before the game. "I think we just hope for health for Tim, and at 30 years old, hopefully there's still a lot of years left for him to pitch. His career has been rocky on the medical side, with the shoulder for a couple years and now the elbow. Let's hope that he has a run here of a couple good years of health so we can see the type of pitching that we've seen at times during his career."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.