© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

09/22/09 9:21 PM ET

Kouzmanoff battling tightness in back

Slugger nearly recovered from sore calf prior to new ailment

DENVER -- Three hours before Tuesday's game at Coors Field, Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was laying flat on his back with his raised legs resting on a clubhouse chair that sat in front of his locker.

"This is the only position that feels good to me," Kouzmanoff said.

For the record, Kouzmanoff is no longer reeling from the strained left calf that sidelined him on Sept. 8 and has kept him out of the lineup. He's essentially healed from that particularly nagging injury.

Now he has a new one, sort of.

Kouzmanoff, who has a history of disc irritation in his back, has been troubled by what the team is calling a tight back, though it's essentially the same issue he's had over the past two seasons.

San Diego manager Bud Black wouldn't commit to a day when Kouzmanoff might return to the lineup. Chase Headley, a third baseman by trade, continues to get starts playing his natural position.

Kouzmanoff, who on Tuesday missed his 12th consecutive game, said he was "frustrated" by this latest incident that was probably not helped by the fact that he missed a chair as he tried to sit down in the clubhouse in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

"I was supposed to run the bases at full speed yesterday in Pittsburgh, but that's when my back started acting up," Kouzmanoff said. "The calf had gotten a lot better. But now it is hard for me to reach down and touch my toes."

Kouzmanoff, who is hitting .257 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs this season, second to teammate Adrian Gonzalez (92), felt like he had turned a corner regarding his calf, an injury that occurred when he planted to make a throw in a game Sept. 8 against the San Francisco Giants.

"I was getting exciting about returning, I was finishing my rehab and starting to ramp up things hitting and then this back thing came around again," he said.

Kouzmanoff missed six games in 2007, his first with the Padres, with disc issues in his back. A year ago, he missed six more games with a lower back strain, one that wasn't helped by a five-hour bus ride which the team made from Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame Game that was rained out vs. New York.

Kouzmanoff suffered a serious back injury playing in the Arizona Fall League in 2004 when he slipped down the dugout steps in pursuit of a foul ball.

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