SAN DIEGO -- Padres reliever Joe Thatcher may only be playing catch, but he has a positive attitude and thinks he'll be back on the Padres' 25-man roster soon.
"We just played light catch for the first time [Tuesday], it's a first step -- 60 feet for about 10 minutes," said Thatcher, who has been on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder since March 22. "It felt good, no pain or anything. It's a first step in getting back. And I'm going to do the same thing today."
Thatcher appeared to be closing in on making a Minor League rehabilitation stint, but then he reported some soreness in his shoulder during a bullpen session at PETCO Park on April 5.
"It was real fustrating, because I felt good playing catch, I even played long toss, and it felt great," said Thatcher. "And I was of the mindset that I was over all the pain, and I was very optimistic and looking forward to going to rehab and [getting] back here as soon as possible But when I got on the mound and it didn't feel good -- it was definitely tough to swallow, because I thought I was over it."
Thatcher hopes that he will be able to rehab this time like he did last year.
"Last year, I was on the DL before the season started," said Thatcher. "We got the inflammation taken care of and I was fine the rest of the season; and felt great all year. This year, it's not cooperating like it did last year, but we're still confident that we can get over the imflamation and then go on and help this ballclub.
"We know how important the bullpen is for this team," said Thatcher. "It's an honor to be a part of what we did last year. It's hard to watch guys leave to go out to the bullpen and I'm stuck in the dugout just watching. But I'm doing everything I can to get heatlthy and back out there."
Black ejected from game against Reds
SAN DIEGO -- It was a strike-him-out, throw-him-out situation for Padres manager Bud Black on Wednesday.
Black was ejected from the game against the Reds at the end of the fourth inning after Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer struck out Travis Wood with the bases loaded to end the frame.
One pitch prior to the ejection, Black said something from the dugout to home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez about a pitch to Wood that Hernandez had called a ball. On the next pitch, Wood struck out looking to end the inning. Hernandez then took off his mask and tossed Black out of the game.
Black came out of the dugout and went over to the crew chief, third-base umpire Joe West, to discuss the situation.
Black had also been admonished by Hernandez for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout in the third inning.
Bartlett returns after missing time with sore back
SAN DIEGO -- Jason Bartlett, who had missed the last three games with a sore back, was back in the Padres' starting lineup batting second on Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds.
"No one likes to miss too long," said the San Diego shortstop, who hit safely in four of his first seven games and reached base in six. "I was starting to feel good, I was getting in a groove personally, and for that to happen ... it wasn't good timing, but I'm trying to fix this thing and glad to be back as quickly as possible."
Bartlett said his back locked up during Saturday's loss to the Dodgers, and he left the game in the ninth inning. Bartlett then sat out Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Alberto Gonzalez started at short all three games Bartlett was out.
"Gonzo did great," said Bartlett. "That's why they went and got him. He can pick it and he was swinging the bat well, so he stepped in and we didn't miss a beat."
Gonzales went 3-for-8 in the first two games of the Reds series, and has hit safely in four of his last five games, hitting .357 (5-for-14) in that span.
"We have to get some timely hits," said Bartlett. "I think that's what it's all about right now. We had a lot of chances [Tuesday] night, just getting that one big hit is what we're missing."
"I had heard a lot about the pitching before I came here," Bartlett said. "You're going to be in every game, pitching is going to give you a chance. We just need to execute and get the runs when we can, and hopefully by the end of the game we'll be on top."
Bartlett said he was a little surprised that he's back in the lineup so soon.
"I've never had that [sore back] before, so it's hard to say," Bartlett said. "I wasn't sure that it was going away the next day or a couple of days. I've been doing treatment and the medical staff has been doing a good job, so it's been coming along pretty well.
"I went out there [Tuesday] and took some ground balls, swung the bat and it felt pretty good," said Bartlett, who, according to Padres manager Bud Black, passed a battery of tests on Tuesday.
Defense an issue this year for Padres' pitchers
SAN DIEGO -- While it hasn't reached epidemic proportions, the defense of Padres pitchers is of concern for manager Bud Black.
Clayton Richard's overthrow of second base on an attempted double play in the fifth inning on Tuesday was the fourth error committed by the San Diego pitching staff this season.
"Our pitchers take a lot of pride in pitching defense," said Black. "We have made eight errors as a team, and four have been have been by pitchers in 10 games. Clayton didn't hit the bag in St. Louis, even though he did," said Black. "[Tim] Stauffer made a throwing error, Clayton made a throwing error and [Aaron] Harang made a throwing error.
"We can't make errors, and we have to do things right," said Black. "You know how we play. I'm not telling you anything different about how we need to win."
Asked about how much the pitchers practice during the season, Black said: "We practice a lot. We will have pitcher's fielding practice during the course of the season. During batting practice, you'll notice a lot of pitchers will take ground balls out in right field early. And a lot of times on the road -- at least once each series -- we have early practice and we will have some specialty works."
Black addressed the most recent errors by the pitching staff and the circumstances surrounding them.
"Last night, the ball got back to Clayton quick and he turned and quickly threw the ball to the second-base bag," Black said. "And the guys were not there yet. You have to take one more shuffle step and deliver the ball to the bag."
As for Harang, his throw during the seventh inning on Sunday came toward the third-base bag after a comebacker, when he eyed the Dodgers' Matt Kemp off the base.
"While that was a poor throw, Aaron told me later that the slope of the mound got him when he tried to throw the ball," said Black. "He was sensing his foot hitting the ground as he was getting ready to throw, and it never did. He was just out of sorts when he tried to throw the ball."
Black was a strong fielding pitchers during his playing career.
"I liked to field my position," said Black. "I liked fielding bunts, I never felt uncomfortable throwing to bases, I like throwing to bases. Every team has a guy or two who doesn't like to field their position."
Asked about who was the best fielding pitcher on the Padres, Black picked Dustin Moseley.
Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.