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Kelly playing catch in return from TJ surgery

SAN DIEGO -- It was just playing catch, but every time that Casey Kelly throws a baseball, he considers it to be a very good thing.

"I'm not sure I can tell you when I made my [Major League] debut," Kelly said. "But I know when I had my surgery."

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SAN DIEGO -- It was just playing catch, but every time that Casey Kelly throws a baseball, he considers it to be a very good thing.

"I'm not sure I can tell you when I made my [Major League] debut," Kelly said. "But I know when I had my surgery."

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Kelly, considered the No. 3 Padres prospect by MLB.com, is working his way back slowly from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on April 2.

Kelly was in the Petco Park outfield four hours before game time on Friday, playing catch. He said that he's been doing so for the last month and has recently done so from 60 feet.

"I'm feeling really good ... it's been slow and steady," Kelly said. "I'm slowly moving my way up."

Kelly is aware of the 12-to-18 month recovery time for pitchers who have reconstructive elbow surgery -- and knows that while the surgery is relatively similar, the recovery time differs from patient to patient.

Take Padres left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke, who had surgery in May 2012. Luebke has had several setbacks and is currently in Cincinnati for a second opinion on his elbow. While some players are able to return closer to 12 months, some take 18 months or more.

For now, Kelly will follow the prescribed path of rehabilitation: work hard, and, really, hope for the best.

"Once you get surgery, you know there's another side to it," Kelly said. "For me ... I trust the rehab 100 percent. It's status quo. You try and not think too far ahead."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Diego Padres, Casey Kelly