Notes: Young likely to start Thursday
Right-hander to face D-backs in return from sore back
SAN DIEGO -- The possibility of having to play the last 32 games of the season without Chris Young or a version that was less than healthy wasn't a notion the Padres wanted to entertain.
And now it appears they won't have to.
Barring any last-minute changes, Young will be on the mound Thursday at PETCO Park for the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10 days after leaving a start with tightness in his lower back.
"It looks like he's going to, in all probability, [pitch] Thursday. We haven't announced it yet. He feels good today," Padres manager Bud Black said.
The Padres would have been put in a tough spot had Young needed a second stint on the disabled list.
Young missed two starts earlier this month after straining his oblique muscle on July 27 in Colorado. Young's lower back incident is believed to have stemmed from compensating for the oblique injury.
It's certainly been a wild 10-day stretch for Young, who leads the Major Leagues in ERA (2.12) and has a 9-4 record.
After leaving his start against the Mets on Aug. 21 after five innings, Young flew directly back to San Diego to have an MRI on his back, which revealed only inflammation and no structural damage.
He played catch on Saturday at PETCO Park to test his back and on Monday threw a long bullpen session that put his back to the test. He emerged from that session feeling strong, and waking up Tuesday nearly pain-free led him to believe pitching on Thursday was in the cards.
"I felt [Monday] when I went home that it would feel good today," Young said. "It's [felt better] for the past three or four days. A couple days ago I was worried. After I played catch [Saturday], I wasn't sure. Sunday I felt all right."
Young could make as many as seven more starts this season, which would certainly give the Padres an increased opportunity at either winning the National League West Division or advancing as the Wild Card.
Now all the Padres have to concern themselves with is who will start Friday against the Dodgers.
The team still hasn't announced a starting pitcher, though it won't be Clay Hensley, said Black.
Hensley was officially optioned to Triple-A Portland but has been in the home clubhouse the last two days, which has raised speculation that he'll start Friday, something that can only happen if another player goes on the disabled list.
But Black indicated before Tuesday's game that Hensley will pitch in Portland on Friday.
That leaves left-hander Wil Ledezma as the only viable in-house candidate. Yet another option might be Jack Cassel, who is currently pitching for Portland.
Hairston on the mend: Outfielder Scott Hairston will see playing time before the season ends, according to Black, though his recovery from a strained left oblique muscle is going at a slow pace.
Hairston has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 10 with the injury after he suffered a strain in a game against St. Louis. And as eager as he is to return to the playing field, he knows he can't push it.
"I've missed 2 1/2 weeks already, and it seems like two months, but I'm not trying to rush myself," Hairston said. "Feeling better, a lot better than I was a couple days ago. Today I'm going to throw a little bit and do some dry swings and see how that feels."
This is the first time Hairston has injured his oblique, though he's no stranger to injuries.
"I've had injuries in the past where I rushed myself and got back too early," Hairston said. "I'm just trying to be smart about things."
Hairston did some long-throwing exercises prior to Monday's game against Arizona -- his former team -- though he won't be back in the Padres' lineup anytime soon. He could be in line for a Minor League rehabilitation assignment at some point.
"My gut feeling would be a week from today, but I never know my gut feeling," Hairston said. "My gut's not always right.
"I haven't really felt that much pain in the last week or so. Just been really sore. I threw a little bit Saturday, just very briefly because I hadn't thrown in a long time. I have to complete my throwing before I do anything."
The 27-year-old was acquired by the Padres on July 27 from Arizona. Hairston played 11 games with the Padres before the injury and was hitting .400 with three home runs and seven RBIs.
"Slowly, he's making strides but not big ones," Black said.
Final AFL rosters: San Diego will certainly be well represented in October in the Arizona Fall League.
As reported earlier this month, the Padres will send seven players to play for the Peoria Saguaros.
Those players are pitchers Jonathan Ellis, Neil Jamison, Edwin Morena and Will Startup. Position players include catcher Nick Hundley, infielder Matt Antonelli and outfielder Will Venable.
Morena takes the place of pitcher Steve Garrison, who was initially holding a roster spot for the Padres. The Padres ultimately decided to have Morena go to Arizona instead of Garrison, who came over in the deal that sent Scott Linebrink to Milwaukee.
The Saguaros open play at the Peoria Sports Complex beginning Oct. 9. The league is in its 16th season.
On deck: The Padres' four-game series against Arizona continues at 7:05 p.m. PT on Wednesday as Greg Maddux (10-9, 3.90) gets the start for San Diego. Micah Owings (6-7, 4.69) gets the start for the Diamondbacks. The series concludes on Thursday.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.