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08/02/12 12:48 PM ET

First-inning struggles continue to plague Padres

CINCINNATI -- They say it's not how you start, but how you finish.

For the Padres this season, the way they start has often been indicative of the way they finish.

San Diego is getting outscored, 82-38, in the first inning, by far its most lopsided inning. The club surrendered runs in the opening frame of the first three contests in Cincinnati, a stat manager Bud Black chalked up to subpar starting pitching and hot bats from the opposition.

"I think we're going up against a team that's swinging the bat well," Black said. "There's some guys that have done a nice job for them over the last month or so. On the other end of that, we've made some pitches that are not in great spots and they've taken advantage of it."

The Padres are 26-24 when they score first, but hold an 18-38 record when they allow the first run.

Luckily for the Padres, they often answer back.

The club is outscoring its opponents, 37-33, in the second inning, 53-46 in the third and 54-42 in the fourth. The Padres' 123 runs in July was 10th best in the Majors.

"When we're down, we come up and we give good at-bats," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "I feel like the past three days here, we've given good at-bats, so hopefully we can eliminate a little bit of those mistakes and those childish mental mistakes in the first couple innings. Hopefully that will change the game a little bit."

Hoffman enjoying roles in front office, on TV

CINCINNATI -- You can take the baseball from Trevor Hoffman, but you can't take Trevor Hoffman from baseball.

After 18 years in the Majors, Hoffman called it quits last January, but the retirement didn't keep the seven-time All-Star away from the game he loves.

Upon his retirement, Hoffman contacted the Padres and expressed his interest to stay involved as a part of the organization. Since then, he's slowly made a "smooth transition" into a role in the front office with San Diego.

"I think it's more strictly just kind of a title right now," Hoffman said. "For me, I wanted to stay in the game. It's what I know. [The organization] has given me that latitude to be on the field in Spring Training and see some of our Minor League affiliates and be involved in some Trade Deadline stuff. I am allowed to have the latitude to wear a lot of different hats."

Hoffman is also making daily appearances on TV, on both the pregame and postgame shows for Fox Sports San Diego.

After spending 16 years dealing with the San Diego media, Hoffman is now on the other side of things as a member of the media -- a job he said he is beginning to "feel his way around."

"When you're a player, you just kind of keep your head down and you go with what you know and try not to get involved with too many distractions that'll get you off your game," Hoffman said. "There is a whole other world in a lot of areas that are moving just as fast. I have a lot of appreciation for the job and the work that gets done around the ballclub."

It also can't hurt having the one of the greatest closers in baseball history around the clubhouse.

Manager Bud Black said he enjoys having Hoffman back around, adding him to the list of former Padres greats who stay involved with the club, like Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn and Randy Jones.

"He's one of the greatest Padres of all time," Black said. "It's great to have Trev around as much as he can be around. It's great to have him in Spring Training and he pops into the stadium often. It's great to have him in this situation doing some television on a daily basis. Even though he has a job to do on the television set, there's still time for him to interact with the guys, so it's great."

Hoffman said he is keeping busy, but added that his new titles give him the best of both worlds, allowing him to stay involved in the game without being apart from his family.

"To have this ability to be around the game and keep my hand in it enough to fuel the animal, but then reconnect with my family on things that we were missing for a long period of time, it's been a nice balance," Hoffman said. "It's been great."

Thatcher on mend, could return within two weeks

CINCINNATI -- The Padres are hoping to add a much needed arm to the bullpen soon as reliever Joe Thatcher continues to make progress.

Thatcher has been out for a week with right knee tendinitis. Padres manager Bud Black said no groundbreaking progress has been made, but the reliever has continued to take strides toward a recovery.

"He's getting better," Black said. "He's still getting treatment every day from our trainers, but he is feeling better. We are concerned, like we are about all our players."

Thatcher, who is on the 15-day disabled list, is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 40 appearances this season.

Black said there is no timetable for Thatcher's return, but hopes to have the righty back within the next two weeks.

"Hopefully this turns around within the next week to 10 days and he can get back on the mound," Black said.

Worth noting

• The Padres entered Thursday's game in Cincinnati having won nine of their past 10 games on days they travel.

• Entering Thursday, San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonso, who spent two seasons in Cincinnati, was hitting .400 in seven against his former club this season, including four doubles, an RBI and a .464 on-base percentage.

"I feel like these guys are going to be aggressive with me," Alonso said. "I feel like they're going to challenge me. It definitely helps when you know a lot of those guys."

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