Padres Toss Luebke Into Bullpen
Lefty helps the big leauge club in relief role
SAN DIEGO—From high school, to Ohio State, and four seasons in the minor leagues, lefthander Cory Luebke was a starting pitcher.
But his road to the big leagues has led him to the bullpen. And Luebke has embraced the role, which was requiring him to be a jack of all trades.
Luebke, 26, had been called upon by manager Bud Black 12 times so far this season. Four times Luebke, a 2007 supplemental first-round pick, appeared in long relief, including four innings against the Dodgers and three against the Phillies. Five times, he had been used to get one out.
"Down the road, we still see Cory as a starter," Black said. "But right now, we need him in the bullpen, and he has done a nice job.
"He has adapted to whatever we've asked."
The transition hasn't been easy for Luebke. He's still learning to adapt to situations when a game can depend on one pitch. Against the Phillies, Ryan Howard hit a Luebke fastball—down and away, and a good pitch according to catcher Nick Hundley—off the left-field fence to win a game.
"I should have come in and thrown five or six sliders," Luebke said. "And if I walk him, I walk him, and we face the next batter.
"It's little things like that I'm picking up along the way."
The assumption was that Luebke would be in the bullpen only until lefty Joe Thatcher's barking shoulder was 100 percent. Then Thatcher had arthroscopic surgery, which was expected to keep him out until at least August. The Padres are unlikely to call upon the remaining lefthanders at Triple-A Tucson: Randy Flores, Wade LeBlanc or Aaron Poreda.
"Cory knows late in the game one run can mean a win or loss," Black said. "He gets that. But for him it's baptism under fire. In the big picture this is good for him.
"There have been a lot of pitchers who have cut their teeth as relievers and become good starters."
• The Padres called up righthander Evan Scribner from Tucson, and he made his major league debut against the Braves. Scribner, acquired from the Diamondbacks in a 2008 trade for Tony Clark, had never pitched above Double-A before compiling a 5.63 ERA in six appearances with Tucson this season.
• An outfield collision at low Class A Fort Wayne resulted in a season-ending torn right ACL for Everett Williams and a deep bone bruise of the left knee for Donavan Tate, who tentatively was slated to return in June.