When not rehabilitating his strained right elbow, Tim Stauffer has been assembling furniture.

His wife, Rosanne, is due to give birth to the couple's first child later this month.

"She's putting me to work," he said. "It keeps me occupied."

If there was any upshot to the ace spending the first month of the major-league season on the disabled list, it's that he's been able to stay close to his San Diego-area home, and pregnant wife.

"I'm excited," he said. "Excited but nervous."

Stauffer figures to arrive in San Diego before his child does.

He'll throw about 80 pitches tonight for the Tucson Padres against the visiting Sacramento River Cats.

It will mark his second rehab start. On Sunday, he allowed two runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings at Single-A Lake Elsinore.

Whether he'll need a third start depends on tonight's outing.

"We'll see after that," he said. "I'm feeling good and feeling healthy."

After experiencing tightness in his right elbow the last two weeks of spring training, the former first-round draft pick was placed on the disabled list April 5, the day he was supposed to make his second straight opening-day start.

"You want to be out there, whether it's the first game or the fifth game," he said.

"It was more frustrating not being able to go out there and compete.

"There's a lot longer in the season. You'd rather miss a little early on than go out there and risk missing all of the year.

"It was frustrating, but I've been happy with how it's recovered, and felt, so far."

The Richmond graduate said he wants to "fine-tune some things and try to throw some strikes" tonight, and come out of the start feeling healthy.

"We'll see how I feel coming out of it, and I hope my mechanics stay good," he said.

"It's kind of like a second spring training kinda thing."

The young season has been frustrating for Stauffer, and many of his San Diego rotation-mates. The Padres' disabled list includes three pitchers who were supposed to start the season in the rotation: Cory Luebke, Dustin Moseley and the 29-year-old Stauffer.

"It's been a tough go-round," he said.

"It's tough to see that. Everyone does everything they have to do to stay on the field."

Carlos Quentin, the projected starting left fielder, is on the disabled list, too, having taken an off-day Thursday during his Tucson rehab.

Perhaps predictably, the San Diego Padres are 9-17.

"It's hard to watch - and especially hard to watch when the team's not doing well," Stauffer said said.

"You want to go out there and help them win. Hopefully that's the case here, sooner rather than later."

The parent club needs him, too. In his first season as a full-time starter, Stauffer went 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA last year. He was one of four Padres starters ever to carry a sub-3.00 ERA into the All-Star break.

Tucson manager Terry Kennedy is happy to have Stauffer back.

He still remembers how, in 2010 during a rehab assignment with the Portland Beavers, Stauffer scored the winning run from first base on a double.

As the third-base coach, Kennedy sent him home, he recalled, despite being scared to death the pitcher would pull up with an injury.

"I had to send him," Kennedy said, smiling. "He's got it going on. He knows what to do."


• What: Sacramento at Padres

• Where: Kino Stadium

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1600-AM