- Associated Press - Thursday, February 17, 2011

PEORIA, ARIZ. (AP) - San Diego Padres starter Aaron Harang is ready to move past three injury-filled seasons and return to being a power pitcher.

A San Diego native who also pitched at San Diego State, Harang said he’s excited about pitching for his hometown team and he feels physically ready to do so.

Harang signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Padres in December that includes a mutual option and a $500,000 buyout for the 2012 season.

He won 16 games for the Cincinnati Reds in both 2006 and 2007, but was only 18-38 with a 4.71 ERA the past three seasons.

“I feel great,” Harang said. “I was joking around with (catcher Nick Hundley) before I left San Diego. I went out for a bullpen and the first pitch I threw right down the middle and I split the plate and I said ‘OK, I’m ready for the season. Let’s go.’”

The Padres believe Harang can return to the form that helped him lead the National League in wins, complete games (six) and strikeouts (216) in 2006 and offer a veteran presence to a young starting rotation that lost Jon Garland and Chris Young to free agency during the offseason.

To do so, Harang will have to avoid injuries that have slowed him since the 2008 season.

In 2008, Harang spent 32 days on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. Harang then missed 42 games in the 2009 season after having surgery to remove his appendix and he was limited to 22 appearances during the 2010 season because of a lower back strain.

Padres manager Bud Black said Harang was in good shape when he reported to spring training on Sunday.

“He’s had a very good offseason as far as training,” Black said. “He’s been extremely motivated to get back to a level of performance that he was accustomed to for a number of years there in Cincinnati. I think it’s a good fit.”

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