Padres Prospect Interview: Tim Stauffer

Spending the 2008 season on the disabled list, San Diego Padres prospect Tim Stauffer is throwing off a hill. Looking for a season of health, the right-hander is trying to finally meet the immense expecatations placed when he was drafted by the Friars in the first round.

We went a little bit over a year without throwing competitively. How frustrating of a process has it been for you to get back on the mound?

Tim Stauffer: A little bit, but it is nice to know things are taken care of and I can look forward to pitching instead of how my arm feels. It was a lot of work, as anyone who goes through surgery will tell you, but right now it is feeling good.

Sometimes when you step away from the game you can view things at a different angle and pick up some things. Did that happen?

Tim Stauffer: I missed being around the guys – the camaraderie. Not being out there competing was tough. This gives you a little extra fire out there, a little extra incentive to go all out and not hold anything back.

You have pitched competitively now. How do you feel and is there something specific you are working on?

Tim Stauffer: I am working on throwing strikes down in the zone and getting comfortable again on the mound. I have thrown a lot with not a whole lot of rest in between. Some days you feel better than others. I am just trying to mix it up, throwing breaking balls for strikes.

Have there been any challenges along the way with your stuff?

Tim Stauffer: A little bit. Some days you wake up and don't feel quite as good as others. That is going to happen. There are always days when you don't have your best stuff but you have to compete. Everything is, however, feeling pretty good.

You made it to the majors and have been back and forth between San Diego and Triple-A. Do you place any expectations on this season?

Tim Stauffer: Just to have a healthy season and making all my starts, whether it is in San Diego or Portland or wherever. I just want to be healthy. I obviously want to be in the big leagues, but want to be healthy and pitch the way I know I am able to.

You had big expectations coming out of Richmond. Has that ever put undo pressure on you to perform?

Tim Stauffer: Not really. I kind of put that pressure on myself from the first time I started playing, knowing what I was capable of. In games you don't throw how you are capable, you want to get out there that next time and show yourself first and foremost that you can do it and whoever else is watching – show them as well.

They say the first season after a major surgery is about finding your command again. A lot of people have gone through it and you have probably seen it happen with fellow players.

Tim Stauffer: Definitely. They say that first year, there will be days where you feel great. You can't feel too high or too low because things kind of even out. It is about finding that command. That is the name of the game.

Do you fool around with different grips to try and gain better command?

Tim Stauffer: A little bit. This spring, I was using two grips for two different kinds of changeups. One of the pitching coaches had me try a different grip for a two-seamer.

Getting the arm healthy is first, and working on different things in bullpens is important too.

Do you ever find a comfort level with one of these grips?

Tim Stauffer: Yes, really the last couple of times out, throwing with a new changeup grip has been pretty comfortable. It is good to have a different pitch out there in case the other one is not working. Having a backup plan is nice.

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