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Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Luebke working his way back to majors

By Gary R. Rasberry
While the San Diego Padres opened the 2013 Major League Baseball season at Citi Field in New York against the Mets, Cory Luebke was in San Diego continuing his rehabilitation to get back to pitching in the majors.  
After missing most of the 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery to repair his pitching elbow last May, the Padres' left-handed pitcher and Maria Stein native is going through the rehab process of getting his arm back to full strength.
The road back to baseball has been slowed after Luebke felt some pain in his elbow during Spring Training at the Padres' complex in Peoria, Ariz., in early March. The doctors found inflammation and shut down the throwing part of the rehabilitation for four to six weeks.
In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Luebke said he has been cleared to start throwing this week.
"We had to go back a little in the throwing program. We're starting at 60 feet this week," said Luebke, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list on March 31. "But it's a process that will pick up quick. Sooner or later, we'll get back on the mound in a month or later."  
While it was a setback, it's something that is built into the 12-18 month recovery period for Tommy John surgeries.
"It's never a good thing, but the good part is when I started throwing, most - almost all - of the pain was gone," said Luebke. "The actual protocol (of the recovery) is 11 months, and they build in time (for setbacks). They still tell you 12-18 months just because most guys just fall into that time frame. Obviously, I was hopeful, and the team was hopeful, I would fall into that 12 months, but my arm had other plans.
"It's not something I wanted to do, but I didn't have a choice," continued Luebke. "I was hoping to get to the mound soon and it wasn't feeling the way it needed to have that happen. It's all part of it: take the lumps with the good days."
Unable to throw, Luebke kept busy helping in the other aspects of Spring Training.
"There were a lot of things that Buddy (Padres' manager Bud Black), Glenn Hoffman (Padres' third base coach) and our pitching coach (Darren Balsley) did to give me something to do," said Luebke. "I didn't want to be sitting in the training room all day rehabbing. I got there a little earlier, got my stuff done rehab-wise and hang out with the team. It was good to get out of the training room and feel (like) you're a little more part of the game, I guess."
One thing is for sure in Luebke's mind: he is determined that he pitch this season.
"Without a doubt. I'd be frustrated if that wasn't the case," said Luebke. "There're certain things in this process that are just out of your control. You have to listen to the elbow. It's kind of the way it goes."
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