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04/21/08 9:01 PM ET

Hensley ready to start rehab stint

Right-hander to make appearance for Class A on Tuesday

HOUSTON -- Clay Hensley isn't quite ready to pronounce himself fit and ready to pitch in the Major Leagues just yet, though he's encouraged that he's getting closer to pitching for the Padres.

Hensley, who had labrum surgery on his right shoulder in September, will start a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday when he throws one inning -- or roughly 25 pitches -- for the Class A Lake Elsinore Storm.

It will be Hensley's first game appearance since Sept. 4, when he allowed three runs in one inning against Arizona. Seventeen days later, the right-hander had surgery.

Hensley had been in extended Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz., the last month, pitching against Minor League players and those working their way back from injuries. Hensley said it's just not the same as pitching in a game, though.

"I'm looking forward to Tuesday, pitching in a serious game," Hensley said by phone on Monday from San Diego.

"As far as my stuff goes, I feel like I'm back. The arm angle, all that is the same, the delivery is the same, I'm not running from any pain. I'm back to normal again. Every outing on the mound, it's gotten a lot better. I'm really excited."

Hensley said the plan is for him to pitch for Lake Elsinore on Tuesday and then again Friday for Triple-A Portland, when the Beavers visit Las Vegas.

General manager Kevin Towers said there's no set timetable for Hensley. He would like to see Hensley get "two or three weeks of consistent innings."

The plan for Hensley for the foreseeable future is to have him pitch in relief, though that doesn't mean that he won't, or can't, start in the future.

"First and foremost, I want to be back with the ballclub," Hensley said. "If that means coming through the bullpen, that's fine. I personally feel, at some point, that I want to work myself back into the rotation. But I'm just excited to be pitching again."

Hensley, who started 2007 as a member of the Padres starting rotation, was troubled by a variety of injuries. He was 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA in 13 games while also spending time at Portland.

"He has the arm and the potential to do some things at this level," San Diego manger Bud Black said on Monday.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.