Padres may use six-man rotation temporarily

Club hopes to limit innings during 16-game stretch without an off-day

Padres may use six-man rotation temporarily

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres could go to a six-man rotation next week, when they begin a stretch of 16 straight games without an off-day on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

Padres manager Andy Green has long talked about being careful with the young pitchers who make up the bulk of his starting rotation, and after signing Clayton Richard Saturday, the 32-year-old could join the fold, at least for a few starts.

Padres welcome back versatile lefty Richard

"We've got a 16-day stretch coming up. We've got a lot of guys -- Christian Friedrich at the top of the list -- pushing innings limits right now," Green said. "There is a lot of conversation about inserting Clayton Richard at the back end of that, to go to a six-man [rotation] through that 16-day stretch."

Richard talks about his future

While Green has said there isn't a hard innings limit on Friedrich, he did mention that pushing him much further than 120 innings this season wouldn't be smart. Last year, Friedrich threw just 58 1/3 innings as a reliever and is up to 81 1/3 this season as starter.

Rule 5 pick Luis Perdomo is up to 89 innings, and while he did throw 126 2/3 innings last season in the Minors, that was the only time he's eclipsed the 100-inning mark in his professional career.

"I don't know that it will stay that way throughout the season, but at least to maybe provide a couple spot starts to lengthen out rest for guys through the turn in the rotation," Green said. "I think that's probably the way we're leaning. We're not fully committed to that at this point in time."

If the Padres do decide to go ahead with the six-man rotation, Richard would likely be available out of the bullpen for the first three games of the team's upcoming road trip vs. the Pirates, before being stretched out to start. If that's the case, Richard's first start with San Diego would potentially be the series finale against the Mets in New York.

When Green talked about acquiring Richard, one of the biggest benefits he mentioned was his ability to bring this sort of depth to the pitching staff.

"Richard has the possibility of starting, he can go long, he can come out of the 'pen," Green said Saturday. "At any point in time he can be up to five or six innings. If [we need a] spot start, he can do that for you."

Ross throws successful bullpen

Tyson Ross threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday, and according to Green, the 29-year-old righty is back on a progression that was sidetracked when he sprained his left ankle on July 6.

"Tyson's good. … [He was] supposed to [throw] all fastballs; threw a slider because Tyson has to throw a slider," Green said. "He felt really good. Was really upbeat after that day, knowing his ankle was stable. Feeling good that now the progression is being built to get him back to the step where he's at live batting practice. But that still takes some time.

"That was a 25-pitch 'pen. That was his first one [since spraining his ankle]. I'd assume a couple days off and then back on the mound after that. He's moving in the right direction."

Ross is recovering from right shoulder inflammation that has put his entire season on hold after his sole Opening Day start on April 4.

Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.