Stauffer hanging around

With the season set to begin in just a few short weeks, Tim Stauffer is still on the roster and fighting for an outside chance at beginning the year with San Diego.

Tim Stauffer is making a run at a roster spot that didn't appear open. Truthfully, they still might not be.

Stauffer, 23, has pitched well this spring while designated No. 5 starter Darrell May has struggled in his last two outings.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy remains committed to the left-handed May as the No. 5 starter. But May has been roughed up in his last two outings -- giving up six earned runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. May has a 5.59 ERA this spring. Stauffer has a 1.50 ERA.

May says he has "felt out of whack" when pitching from the stretch.

"My tempo has been off," he said. "I didn't have command of my changeup with runners on base. I didn't feel comfortable working out of the stretch. I'll probably work on pitching out of the stretch more."

Bochy has called May "erratic." But the manager is not about to "panic."

"He's really been throwing the ball well," Bochy said.

Angel Tovar and Jesse Garcia are also in pursuit of a spot on the opening day lineup.

Tovar, 26, is making a strong charge at the back end of the bullpen. And Garcia's impressive showing with the bat and the glove has put some pressure on veteran Geoff Blum for the utility infield job.

Tovar is a Venezuelan who pitched for Cancun in the Mexican League last year, posting a 1.88 ERA in 36 games. He has a 96 mph fastball and has a 2.57 ERA in seven one-inning outings this spring.

Tovar is challenging RHPs Blaine Neal (7.14 ERA in six spring outings) and Steve Sparks (6.33 ERA this spring) for the final spot in the bullpen. Neal throws hard. Sparks is a knuckleballer who, in addition to giving the Padres a different look in the bullpen, could serve as a spot starter.

Garcia went 4-for-6 Sunday (March 20) to raise his spring average to .344. Blum is hitting .200 this spring but has the track record that Garcia lacks.

At the moment, it would appear that Stauffer, Tovar and Garcia will all open the season with Triple-A Portland.

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