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Making his mark

Tim Stauffer jumps into lead pitcher role in San Diego

Saratoga Central Catholic graduate Tim Stauffer pitches during a San Diego Padres’ home game against Arizona earlier this season. Stauffer owns a 7-9 record in his first full season as a starting pitcher, but his earned run average had been as low as 2.83 before a bad start Aug. 13 against Cincinnati raised it to over 3.50.

Saratoga Central Catholic graduate Tim Stauffer pitches during a San Diego Padres’ home game against Arizona earlier this season. Stauffer owns a 7-9 record in his first full season as a starting pitcher, but his earned run average had been as low as 2.83 before a bad start Aug. 13 against Cincinnati raised it to over 3.50. Scott Wachter

— Stauffer’s emergence as one of San Diego’s top starting pitchers came during last year’s pennant chase. From the beginning of September, Stauffer compiled a 3-2 record in seven starts including two key victories over eventual World Series champion San Francisco.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Stauffer. “We were in the thick of [the National League West race], and every game was fun.”

Stauffer’s final start of 2010 was his most challenging. Pitching in front of a raucous San Francisco crowd anticipating their team’s NL West championship-clinching victory, Stauffer limited the Giants to one run on three hits in 6.1 innings of work as San Diego pulled out a 4-2 victory.

“That atmosphere was as close as you can get to the playoffs,” said Stauffer. “It was a lot of fun to go out there and pitch well to get the win.”

That performance capped a 2010 season that began with Stauffer making the Padres’ opening day roster for the first time in his professional baseball career, but as a reliever instead of as a starter. Then, an appendectomy in May shelved Stauffer for more than a month.

“It was just unfortunate about the timing of [the appendectomy], but I got it fixed up and taken care of,” said Stauffer.

Once he was fully healed, Stauffer returned to the bullpen where he re-settled into his role as a middle reliever. That lasted until Sept. 6 when he got to start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Diego. Stauffer pitched the first four innings and allowed one run on four hits in a 4-2 Padres’ victory.

“It was a change for him,” Rick said of his son’s bullpen stint. “I think it was sort of a blessing in disguise because that was the first time he started the season with the [Padres]. Coming in from the bullpen helped him get over the mentality of dwelling over a loss because he knew he could come back in the next day. I think it really helped him to round into a major league player.”

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