SAN DIEGO -- Time might be working against him, but Padres left-hander Cory Luebke said he is still holding out hope he will pitch in a big league game this season.
But Luebke, who had reconstructive surgery on his left elbow in May 2012, has learned an important lesson during a rehabilitation that has included two periods where his throwing program was halted.
"First, it looked like May, then July … I don't want to jinx it again," Luebke said.
Luebke is back throwing again after several stops-and-starts during his rehabilitation. He's currently at 120 feet, working up from 60, 90 to 120 feet with 150 feet still to go before he can return to a mound.
"It feels better," Luebke said of the elbow. "We're being a little more cautious, making sure that I don't push it."
The return timeframe for pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery ranges between 12 and 18 months. Because no two cases are alike, those estimates are exactly just that -- estimates.
The Padres have mapped out a rough plan for Luebke that could have him throwing in a game in late August or early September if he hits all of his rehabilitation marks.
"I hope like heck I can," Luebke said, when asked if he'll pitch in a game this season.
He said for now he's not going to worry about the particulars of where and when he will make his return.
"I'm to the point where we'll about that later," Luebke said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.