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Luebke staying positive during long road back

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The long road back for Padres pitcher Cory Luebke from two Tommy John surgeries continued on Friday as the left-hander threw a short bullpen session hours before San Diego played the D-backs at Chase Field.

In the clubhouse moments afterward, Luebke had a big smile on his face, which is a good thing after all he's endured. He'll keep progressing with side sessions and hopefully graduate to live hitters some time in the next few weeks.

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PHOENIX -- The long road back for Padres pitcher Cory Luebke from two Tommy John surgeries continued on Friday as the left-hander threw a short bullpen session hours before San Diego played the D-backs at Chase Field.

In the clubhouse moments afterward, Luebke had a big smile on his face, which is a good thing after all he's endured. He'll keep progressing with side sessions and hopefully graduate to live hitters some time in the next few weeks.

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"It's good. I felt good. The ball felt good. I'm making progress," Luebke said. "It's been a long haul, but it's the best place I've been in for the last few years. It's exciting, but if I've learned anything it's not to ride the roller coaster. Take a week at a time. But I definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel a little bit."

Right now, Luebke is throwing long toss and three bullpen sessions per week of about 30 pitches each. He's hoping to see game action by the end of the month. That will be novel.

Once one of the brightest young pitchers in the organization, Luebke hasn't pitched for the Padres in a Major League game since April 27, 2012, his last of five starts to open that season.

He had the first of his ligament replacement surgeries on May 23 of that year. And then after the usual rehab, suffered a setback and had his second Tommy John surgery on Feb. 2, 2014. And now the 30-year-old is nearing return once again.

"It's great. I'm mixing in all four pitches," Luebke said. "It's been a process the last three weeks, but every week I think there has been an improvement. It's getting closer and closer."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

San Diego Padres, Cory Luebke