Left-hander Thatcher on comeback trail

Left-hander Thatcher on comeback trail

CHICAGO -- A positive sign for the Padres bullpen: Lefty reliever Joe Thatcher playing catch. Thatcher threw for several minutes before Monday's game at Wrigley Field, reporting no problems with his strained left shoulder.

"He did fine," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He played catch, didn't go off the mound. Keep your fingers crossed. We've been down this [road] before. We're trying to stay as positive as we can."

Thatcher was placed on the disabled list on March 29, retroactive to March 22. He's missed all 15 games thus far, but he's still a ways from a return to action. Next up?

"More catch," said Black. "He'll graduate from catch to the mound, from the mound to some batting practice. The usual progression.

"He's in the early stages of a throwing program. [There is] no timetable. Way too early [for that]."