Top Prospects: Casey Kelly, RHP, Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Pitcher Casey Kelly, two days removed from a discouraging diagnosis on his right elbow, told reporters he will get a second opinion before making a decision on whether to have reconstructive surgery or not.

"I think I've prepared myself for the worst," Kelly said Thursday. "This is uncharted waters for me."

Kelly, regarded by MLB.com as the fourth-best prospect in the organization, felt discomfort in his right elbow in his last appearance on March 7. It's the same elbow he strained last season, causing him to miss three months.

"I definitely felt something, and then the next day it didn't recover as fast," Kelly said. "... We got some tests. It's a tough thing to hear, I just want to be healthy."

He had a 7.71 ERA in three appearances this spring, allowing six runs on 12 hits. In that last appearance on March 7, he tossed two scoreless innings before allowing two runs in his last inning.

Kelly had an MRI and X-Ray on his elbow on Tuesday in San Diego. He was told he has "micro-tears" of the ulnar collateral ligament.

"I think the doctors were concerned with what they saw," Kelly said. "There are micro-tears, but there are a lot of guys pitching with those. But it differs from person to person."

Kelly, who was in big league camp trying to win a job in the starting rotation, has already talked to two of his teammates who had similar surgery last year -- pitchers Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland. He has also consulted with his family on the matter.

"Talking with the doctors, I'm going to get a second opinion on it," Kelly said. "… That's kind of the next step going forward."

A year ago, Kelly started the regular season with Triple-A Tucson, making two starts before eventually being sidelined with an elbow strain. He returned three months later, winning his Major League debut against the Braves at Petco Park. He even got a hit.

"It's not a black and white thing," Kelly said on the decision to have surgery or not. "If nothing happened last year, we would probably try to rehab it. Since we tried to do that last year, we're kind of running out of options before having surgery. I've tried the rehab course, and that hasn't worked."

Kelly was the key piece to the trade the Padres landed in December, 2010 when they sent All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Boston for three players. He was 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts for the Padres last season.

Kelly was set to make a start during the final week of the regular season against the Brewers, though the team opted to shut him down and have him skip what was a scheduled stint in the Arizona Fall League.

Denorfia to return after stint with Italy in Classic

Outlook: Denorfia will platoon against lefties in '13

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres are expecting to get one of the top hitters in the World Baseball Classic back in camp Friday, as outfielder Chris Denorfia returns to Peoria after playing for Italy.

Denorfia hit .381 in five games in the Classic for Italy, which lost a pair of one-run games this week -- 5-4 to the Dominican Republic and then a 4-3 setback in an elimination game against Puerto Rico.

When he arrives in Arizona, manager Bud Black won't throw him right back into games. "We'll give him a couple of days to unwind," Black said. "He got a lot of at-bats."

Denorfia reported to camp in February ahead of the rest of the Padres position players, knowing that he would be pulled away when Italy competed in Pool D of the Classic in Phoenix. Italy and Team USA made it out of that pool, advancing to Miami.

Before leaving for the Classic, Denorfia amassed 16 at-bats in Cactus League games, hitting .375 with a double and two RBIs.

The lone remaining members of the Padres organization still participating in the Classic are pitchers Edinson Volquez, who actually faced Denorfia and Italy earlier this week, and Luke Gregerson.

Richard still has work to do following outing

Richard talks about the difficult NL West division

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Pitcher Clayton Richard has made two official appearances this spring and had another start washed away by rain after three innings.

He's got a 6.43 ERA after allowing five runs on nine hits in five innings on Wednesday against the Angels.

Richard, who tied his career-high with 14 victories a year ago, considers himself a work in progress this spring.

"There are still things we're working on," he said. "Getting glove-side more consistently with my fastball, not missing over the plate and getting over top on my changeup. But I'm making strides at it every day, getting a little better."

Richard threw 69 pitches and will likely have three more appearances in Arizona before the team breaks camp after a game in Peoria on March 28.

Before leaving Arizona, Richard would like to make right-handed hitters feel a little more uncomfortable in the box.

"I still have not been able to consistently pitch inside to a right-handed hitter," he said.