Ross hopes to pitch for Padres this season

Right-hander looks sharp in two-inning batting practice session

Ross hopes to pitch for Padres this season

SAN DIEGO -- Saturday afternoon offered the Padres a sight for sore eyes.

Three hours before first pitch against Arizona, right-hander Tyson Ross threw a live batting practice session against Padres hitters -- marking the first time he's taken the Petco Park mound since Opening Day.

It's possible Ross could head out for a rehab assignment shortly, although the club may ask him to face hitters once more before doing so. Either way, the Padres are hopeful Ross can return to make three or four starts for the Padres before the end of the season.

"The goal is definitely to get back and pitch this year," Ross said. "That would help ease my mind going into the offseason -- that I've taken care of this injury, and I'm ready to go."

Ross -- who has been nursing right shoulder inflammation along with a twisted left ankle -- threw two innings against Padres hitters. Unlike his first live batting practice session Tuesday at Tropicana Field, Ross ramped up his velocity, hitting 94 mph, and used his entire pitch arsenal.

Over his two frames, the Padres didn't charge Ross with a hit -- a subjective measure, given that no defenders were present. Still, most of the contact was weak and on the ground, and infielder Adam Rosales said: "That's probably the toughest pitcher I've faced all year -- I'm not kidding."

"Today was good," said Ross. "It was another great step in the right direction, and I'm looking forward to getting in actual games."

Ross hasn't pitched in a game since he allowed seven earned runs to the Dodgers on Opening Day. Shortly thereafter he was placed on the disabled list with shoulder trouble.

In July, Ross appeared to be ticketed for a rehab stint. But he twisted his ankle in his hotel room, which set his recovery back by about a month.

"It's about building towards next year for him," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It's about checking that box and having every assurance in his head: 'Hey, I'm healthy. I'm ready to pitch next year and don't have to worry about anything else.'"

When Ross came off the mound Saturday, he was greeted by about 20 teammates, who had been stationed behind the batting cage watching him pitch.

"That was awesome," Ross said. "They've got a game to get ready for at 5:40, and they took the time out of their day to come out here and support me.

"It's been a long year of rehab, and I've felt pretty disconnected from the team. It was pretty cool to see the guys come out and support."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.