LOS ANGELES -- Padres infielder David Eckstein saw the question coming, because it's the one he's been asked often for the last week or so.

When is he coming off the disabled list?

Eckstein, who on Wednesday missed his 14th consecutive game with a right calf strain, jogged on the field, ran backward and tested his lateral movements for the second time in as many days.

But he has yet to put on his cleats, which would be a sign that he's close to full baseball activities. That would mean taking ground balls in pregame and batting practice.

"We're taking it slowly, gradually through the process," Eckstein said. "Step one for me was yesterday, step two is today. It's going well so far."

Eckstein, who has never had calf issues in his career, said that he's well beyond the point of having cabin fever.

"Oh, we're long past that," Eckstein said, smiling. "You get to the point where you just want to feel good. But we want to make sure this has completely healed."

When Eckstein returns from the disabled list -- and that will be next week at the earliest -- it appears shortstop Everth Cabrera could be headed to Triple-A Portland to play every day.

That would allow manager Bud Black to use Eckstein and Jerry Hairston at second base, newcomer Miguel Tejada and Hairston at shortstop and Tejada at third base when Chase Headley sits against left-handed pitchers.

Hoyer ponders adding arm to Padres' staff

LOS ANGELES -- Now that the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline has come and gone, Padres general manager Jed Hoyer has moved on to other pursuits -- like finding an arm for the starting rotation.

Hoyer, who landed infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick last week, is currently watching some of the Padres' Minor League affiliates this week, though he is gearing up for the possibility of bolstering the starting rotation.

Hoyer said Wednesday that "there is a little bit of a break now, as players are just now starting to go through waivers. [Tuesday] was the first day guys could clear."

What does this mean for the Padres, who took a 62-43 record into Wednesday's game against the Dodgers?

"You don't know who is going to be out there, we'll have to wait to see who," Hoyer said. "Realistically, most waiver deals happen the second half of August. But you'll monitor the waiver wire every day to see who clears."

The Padres could always look internally, like to left-hander Cory Luebke, a pitcher the team was asked about leading up to the Trade Deadline.

Luebke is 2-0 with a 3.81 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Portland. That might be an easier move than a waiver-wire addition, considering teams will likely be looking to dump payroll.

"I think there's a chance but I don't think we can depend on it," Hoyer said of external additions. "There will be some pitchers out there. But the guys with attractive contracts aren't going to get through."

Padres monitor workload of young starters

LOS ANGELES -- Until the Padres add a pitcher, either externally or from their Minor League system, they will continue to lean on a rotation that, with the exception of Jon Garland and Kevin Correia, hasn't pitched a full season at the Major League level.

How will manager Bud Black combat that during the critical months of August and September?

"We have a very good bullpen, so you might see us go to our bullpen more than teams that have the Cliff Lees and [Roy] Halladays, the workhorses," Black said.

"We have three guys who are going though their first year as starters and, really, with Kevin it's his second."

Those three pitchers are Mat Latos, Clayton Richard and Wednesday's starter, Wade LeBlanc. The Padres are carefully monitoring the innings of all three, especially Latos, who figures to throw no more than 180 innings this season.

Entering Wednesday's game, Latos had thrown 123 2/3 innings. Richard has thrown 137 1/3 innings and LeBlanc has worked 111. LeBlanc started the season pitching for Triple-A Portland.

Black said that while being mindful of innings, there has to come a point where you deal with these pitchers working beyond a point they've never reached.

For a team in a pennant chase, it has no other choice.

"We might as well do it ... they have to do it sometime," Black said. "These are our guys. We'll grow with them."