Padres will wait to see how righty feels after throwing

SAN DIEGO -- All-Star Chris Young was encouraged after
throwing a bullpen session on Monday and the San Diego Padres,
entering a crucial stretch against NL West rivals, are cautiously
optimistic he can start Thursday or Friday.

The 6-foot-10 right-hander was forced to leave his start against
the Mets on Tuesday night after five innings because of lower back
pain. He returned to San Diego to have his back checked and missed
his scheduled start Sunday at Philadelphia.

"It feels pretty good right now," Young said before the opener
of a four-game series against the division-leading Arizona

The Padres, trying to win their third straight division title,
went into Monday night's game trailing the Diamondbacks by three
games but leading the wild-card race by three games.

Young and manager Bud Black said the key will be how Young feels
in the following days.

"Normally, once it cools off it gets considerably sorer,"
Young said. "The fact that it feels pretty good right now is
encouraging, but who knows how it's going to feel tomorrow or later
tonight. But so far so good."

Young is 9-4 with a 2.12 ERA in 23 starts, lowest in baseball.
He is holding opponents to a .184 average, also lowest in the

If he's good to go, Young will start either Thursday night
against the Diamondbacks or Friday night against the
Los Angeles Dodgers. Friday night's scheduled starter for the Dodgers is
David Wells, who was released by the Padres earlier this month.

"They're both games we need to win, so I don't think it matters
which day," said Young, who's been taking an anti-inflammatory.

Black said Young's bullpen session went well.

"Chris picked up the intensity in his throwing to test the
back," Black said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. It was a
lengthy side, as far as sides go."

Young returned from a stint on the 15-day disabled list earlier
this month. He was out because of a strained muscle in his left

Also Monday, the Padres recalled left-handed reliever
Joe Thatcher from Triple-A Portland and optioned right-hander
Tim Stauffer to the Beavers.

Stauffer had been recalled a day earlier to start in Young's
spot. He lasted only four innings in a 14-2 loss, allowing 11 runs
on 11 hits. In two starts with the Padres this season he's 0-1 with
a 21.13 ERA.

This is Thatcher's third stint with the Padres since he was
obtained from Milwaukee on July 25 in the deal that sent setup man
Scott Linebrink to the Brewers. Hatcher made his big league debut
on July 26 at Houston, and has allowed three unearned runs in five
relief appearances.