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Richard could make return early next week

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PHOENIX -- Back with the Padres following a two-start rehab stint with Triple-A Tucson, Clayton Richard threw a side session on Friday at Chase Field and is poised to return to the big league mound "early next week," barring any setbacks.

"There's a really good chance, yeah." Padres manager Bud Black said. "We think his two starts in the Minor Leagues did him very well, and if he comes out fine after today, you could probably see him pitch."

After finishing their weekend set in Arizona, the Padres will begin a four-game Interleague series with the Mariners in Seattle on Monday. Edinson Volquez is slated to start the opener, but the club needs someone to take the mound Tuesday. That will likely be Richard, if he's ready.

On the disabled list since May 5 with an intestinal virus, the left-hander was 0-4 with an 8.54 ERA in six starts before the ailment took hold.

Richard went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 12 strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings with Tucson while tinkering with a higher arm slot that has appeared to serve him well.

"We like what we saw," Black said. "We were hoping he'd take it and carry it over into competition, which he has. I think that's key."

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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