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Luebke slides into rotation; LeBlanc optioned

Luebke slides into rotation; LeBlanc optioned

Luebke slides into rotation; LeBlanc optioned
BOSTON -- The Padres have always maintained that left-hander Cory Luebke has a future in their starting rotation, even while he continued to pitch well this season in long relief.

The Padres made it official Tuesday that Luebke's future in the rotation will begin in the next five or so days, as manager Bud Black confirmed that the 26-year-old will move into the rotation, taking the spot of another left-hander, Wade LeBlanc.

Black wouldn't commit to a day when Luebke would pitch, as the team has a scheduled off-day Thursday which could allow them to juggle their rotation.

LeBlanc was optioned to Triple-A Tucson on Tuesday after allowing three runs on seven hits on Monday against the Red Sox. LeBlanc yielded six runs in 7 2/3 innings on 14 hits in two starts over the past week.

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Luebke, who is 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 29 games this season, threw 50 pitches in a relief of LeBlanc on Monday. He struck out five consecutive hitters at one point in a stint that covered 3 1/3 innings, his longest outing since April 8 (four innings).

Starting games certainly won't be anything new for Luebke, who made 74 starts during his Minor League career and three more last season with the Padres. With rest over the next few days, Luebke said he'll be able to go well beyond 50 pitches.

Luebke was 32-17 with a 3.49 ERA in 84 Minor League games, including the 74 starts. He was 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in four games with San Diego in 2010.

"The biggest part for me will be being able to rest up before I pitch again," Luebke said. "I was up [throwing in the bullpen] in something like seven of the last eight days."

Luebke was up in the bullpen on two different occasions on Monday before he entered the game. He estimates that he threw anywhere from 25 to 50 pitches.

Luebke said he's excited to move back into a starter role, though pitching in relief wasn't nearly as bad as he initially thought it would be.

"Relieving might have been starting to grow on me," he said, smiling. "I was starting to enjoy it quite a bit."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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