Quentin hopes to return to lineup by weekend

Carlos Quentin could make his long-awaited debut as a Padre by this weekend.

“I’m not counting out the road trip,” said Quentin, who had surgery on his right knee on March 19 after 15 at-bats in spring training.

“I think we’re close. A lot depends on how the knee feels. I want to be on the field. But I have to feel confident on the knee on a consistent basis.”

“When he says he’s ready, he plays,” Padres manager Bud Black said of Quentin, who the Padres acquired from the White Sox for two pitchers last winter and immediately penned him into the No. 4 spot in the lineup.

“We need him, no doubt about it,” Black said Monday while Quentin was taking early batting practice. “He makes our lineup look different. Players like that take pressure off the other guys. Players all see what we see.”

Quentin returned to San Diego Monday after playing five games with Class AAA Tucson on a rehab assignment although only 11 innings were spent in left field on defense. He will play two more games with Single A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday and Wednesday. He is expected to be with the Padres Thursday when they fly east for three games in Philadelphia and two in Washington.

At the time of Quentin’s arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus and remove floating particles from the knee, the rehab time was listed as 6-8 weeks. Quentin said soreness in the knee “is still a factor.”

The right knee is also the plant knee for the right-handed-hitting Quentin at the plate. Quentin has also had to work on his swing because of the knee.

“There is a hitting component to this,” said Black. “He has to feel comfortable in the box. When he’s hitting there’s a lot of weight on the right leg.”

“I think he’s found something,” said Padres batting coach Phil Plantier. “I liked what I saw today from Carlos. I loved it. He had a very good session in batting practice. I’d say he is close.”