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08/27/12 9:21 PM ET

Proud papa Thayer returns to Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Dale Thayer was beaming Monday in the Padres' clubhouse, as the reliever returned to the active roster after being away for the weekend on the paternity list.

Thayer missed the Padres three-game sweep of the D-backs after flying to Phoenix on Thursday only to return to San Diego hours later for the birth of his third child -- a daughter named Ella Grace -- who was born prematurely in the early hours of Friday morning.

Thayer made it to the hospital in San Diego with 100 minutes to spare, a small enough window to cause Thayer to sweat just a little.

"She waited it out," Thayer joked.

This is the first time that Thayer's wife, Lisa, had given birth during the baseball season. The other two children were born in the offseason.

"I talked to her on the off-day [Thursday] before the flight and she was having some contractions. But then by the time we landed in Phoenix, it had gotten worse. That's when I got on a plane back here."

Thayer said that because the hospital wasn't showing games, he could keep track of how the team was faring only via his phone. But, of course, most of his attention was elsewhere.

"They're doing well," Thayer said of mom and daughter.

In order to reinstate Thayer from the paternity list, the team optioned left-handed reliever Josh Spence to Triple-A Tucson. Spence didn't appear in any of the game against the D-backs.

Hundley's disappointing season is over

SAN DIEGO -- Catcher Nick Hundley's frustrating season ended officially Monday, when San Diego placed him on the 60-day disabled list with a torn meniscus in his right knee. The move made room for right-hander Casey Kelly, who will make his Major League debut against the Braves.

Hundley will have surgery Wednesday to repair the meniscus and clean up his knee, a procedure that has a 4-6 week recovery time in most cases. The 28-year-old said he has been dealing with the injury since April, when his foot got caught up with an umpire's while blocking a ball on the team's first road trip of the year.

Hundley says the lingering injury did not play a part in the offensive struggles that eventually landed him in Triple-A Tucson to find his swing after he batted just .167 over the first three months of the season.

"As long as I was able to play physically, I was going to play," Hundley said. "There's no excuses about the way I played."

The righty continued to struggle in Triple-A, hitting just .190 in 13 games with Tucson, a stark contrast to the 2011 season that saw him hit .288 and earned him a three-year, $9 million contract extension last March.

"I think it was a little bit of both: a little bit of mechanics, little bit of mental, little bit of approach," Hundley said of his struggles this season. "I don't think you get to a place where I was with one thing wrong."

Hundley admitted his confidence fell at times this season, but also said he's looking forward to getting healthy and readying himself for next season.

"There's times where it is high and there's times where's it's low, and that's something I've got to fix," Hundley said. "I know I can play this game, I know I can hit. I don't think it's a matter of: 'Yes, I found it, there it is.' I think it's more of an approach and little adjustments to the swing and getting your mind right again."

A revolving door on mound, Black credits coaches

SAN DIEGO -- When Casey Kelly makes his Major League debut against the Braves on Monday night, he'll be the 15th starter used by the Padres so far this season. That ties a club record, though one that San Diego probably would rather have left untouched.

All that flux forced the Padres to turn to several arms that were barely on the organizational radar in Spring Training, but have nevertheless given the club some quality outings. While they struggled at times and while some have come and gone, six of those emergency pitchers -- Jason Marquis, Ross Ohlendorf, Eric Stults, Jeff Suppan, Andrew Werner and Kip Wells -- have combined to give manager Bud Black and his club 22 quality starts.

"A lot of guys have been given an opportunity -- back to Jeff Suppan, who pitched some great games for us, to Kip Wells, to Ross Ohlendorf, to Jason Marquis, Andrew Werner, and go down the line," manager Bud Black said. "They've pitched well and they've won some games."

Black credits his coaching staff, in particular pitching coach Darren Balsley and bullpen coach Jimmy Jones, for having "a lot to do with game planning and our catchers in getting these guys through games," Black said. "I think our coaches have done a great job with a lot of these players who have come in on short notice. For not being in Spring Training with us, having to come on board and make pitches in a new environment, the coaches deserve a lot of credit."

The Padres coaching staff has certainly gotten good at welcoming new pitchers, as 28 hurlers have pitched for the club this season. Only the Blue Jays, with 32, have used more.

In addition to those 15 starters, the Padres have called upon 15 relievers (Anthony Bass and Andrew Cashner have done both). Still, the San Diego staff has thrown to a 3.89 combined ERA coming into Monday, a number that places them in the top half of all big league teams.

Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.