Eaton will be making his first start in more than two months when the Padres open a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies.
Eaton strained a tendon in his right middle finger in his last start on June 15. He returned from the disabled list and made two relief appearances before going back on the DL to make three minor league rehab starts.
“The finger’s great,” he said Tuesday. “It feels like nothing has happened. There are still some times where it’s a little stiff, but I was able to get through all three starts in the minor leagues, and in between it has gotten better and better since then. I feel comfortable throwing all my pitches.”
Eaton was charged with a loss in his last start, but before that had won eight consecutive decisions. He and Jake Peavy combined to make the top of San Diego’s rotation one of baseball’s best.
“It could be huge, (if he’s) the way he was throwing before he went down,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re a better club with him in the rotation.”
With a 7-4 win over Houston on Wednesday, the Padres won for the fourth time in six games and got back to .500. San Diego leads the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks by 6 1/2 games in the NL West.
“The ability to do it for a long period of time, I think, is something that kind of separates a little bit from other guys that had phenomenal years,” Hoffman said. “The ability to hold the position down for a few years and go out and do your job is something I’m proud of.”
All but two of Hoffman’s saves have been with San Diego, which acquired him from Florida on June 24, 1993, in a five-player deal that sent Gary Sheffield to the Marlins.
Owners of the worst road record in the majors, the Rockies have won six of their last nine away from home and three straight road series to match a franchise record.
Eaton and Jeff Francis, who will start for Colorado in the series opener, have squared off once before this season with the Padres winning 5-4 on May 2. Eaton allowed four runs and six hits over six innings and was awarded the win, while Francis gave up five runs and seven hits in six innings and was charged with the loss.