Luebke has option declined, but could return to SD
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres declined the $7.5 million option on left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke on Wednesday, opting for a $1.75 million buyout.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that Luebke, who had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and again in '13, is done with the Padres.
Both Luebke and general manager A.J. Preller indicated Wednesday that the door might still be open for the 30-year-old to return, possibly on a Minor League deal.
"I think we're going to talk to him about it and get his sense for it," Preller said on Wednesday about a potential return. "As I explained to him, talking about our club and our needs, any left-handed pitching we're going to be on the look for."
Luebke hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since April 2012. He had the first of two reconstructive surgeries that May, and then again in February 2013 after the first surgery didn't take.
Luebke's progress this past season was slowed by July surgery to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. He did appear in seven games at three Minor League stops, posting a 3.86 ERA in seven innings before being shut down.
He then had a staph infection six weeks following surgery that ruined any hopes of getting back into a regular-season game sometime late in the season.
"There were no surprises today," Luebke said of having his option declined by the team. "Things haven't gone as well as they could have the last few years. This year took a lot out of me. It's not the way I wanted to end my season."
But Luebke was encouraged by how his arm felt during the team's instructional league last month. He pitched in a few games and now his offseason will follow more of a typical one as if he was preparing for Spring Training.
That hasn't happened since the winter of 2011.
"I still have a chance to do something special. I feel like I'm knocking on the door. I still believe there's going to be a happy ending with all of this," Luebke said.
Luebke was drafted by the Padres with the 63rd overall pick in 2007 out of Ohio State University. He signed a club-friendly contract in the spring of 2012 that guaranteed him $12 million. For his big league career, Luebke has a 3.25 ERA in 55 games, including 25 starts from 2010-2012.
• The Padres have hired Duane Shaffer as a professional scout. Shaffer was the longtime scouting director of the White Sox (1991-2000) and ran the Draft when the team selected pitchers Mark Buehrle and Jack McDowell. Shaffer later was promoted to senior director of player personnel. He had been with the Mariners since 2008.
• Glenn Hoffman, the Padres' third-base coach, will return in the same capacity in 2016. Hoffman, who works with the team's infielders, just completed his 10th season with the team in the same capacity. Hoffman is the older brother of former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. His return gives new manager Andy Green two coaches for his staff. On Sunday, pitching coach Darren Balsley agreed to a new contract to remain with the team. Balsley has been with the Padres since 2003.