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]."
Wrigley Field has been kind to Ludwick
CHICAGO -- Entering Monday's game at Wrigley Field, the Padres ranked last in the National League with a .217 batting average. No player has struggled at the plate as much as Ryan Ludwick, who was hitting .125 with one home run and six RBIs.
Things might be looking up for Ludwick, and by extension, the Padres' offense. San Diego scored eight runs Sunday while locking up a series split at Houston. Ludwick singled in that game, marking the first time this season he's had a hit in consecutive outings.
"I think every night, with a number of our guys, that today's the day," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The 3-for-4s with three RBIs, that's going to come. I think that with Ryan, and think that with some other guys as well."
It's not a hot streak by any means, but it could bode well for the Padres' trip to Chicago. Ludwick is a .330 career hitter at Wrigley, eighth best among those with at least 100 career plate appearances at the venerable ballpark.
Black said the track record is fine, but it doesn't guarantee that Ludwick will break out.
"I know there is a lot of familiarity [at Wrigley] with Ryan because [of playing in the National League] Central," Black said. "At times, you can draw some conclusions from the past, but each game is different."
Padres adjust to chilly conditions
CHICAGO -- A couple of days after huddling on a clubhouse couch before Saturday's game in Houston, first baseman Jorge Cantu was upright and shuffling around before Monday's game in frigid Chicago. It was just one sign that the team is getting through an illness that has been circulating around the team on its current road trip.
"Guys are getting a little better," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I don't know whether it's been passed on, but we had a few guys [sick]. Hopefully, it's passed."
Unfortunately, the Padres now have to fight through some unseasonably cold and damp April weather, even for Chicago. When the team woke this morning, it found a fresh layer of snow on the Chicago streets. By the time Monday's game started, the temperature had dipped below 40 degrees.
It's not the kind of weather you'd think a team from sunny San Diego would prefer. Black certainly doesn't, but that's only because he has to remain stationary in the dugout.
"If I had my preference between 38 degrees and 108, I'd take 108," Black said. "If you asked me which game I'd rather pitch in, I'd take the 38."
Black said the cold weather is a good test for his players.
"Even as a pitcher, I liked adverse conditions," Black said. "I always felt I could beat the other guy. It shows a little a bit about a player. I tell the guys all the time, anybody can play when it's 70 degrees and no wind.
"In games like this, when you're in this game as a player, especially as a pitcher or a catcher, you don't feel the cold," Black said. "You're working and you're exerting energy, keeping yourself warm. I worry least about the pitchers, really. Pitchers and catchers."
Denorfia banged up after painful catch
CHICAGO -- Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia was available for Monday's game, one day after being pulled in the fourth inning of Sunday's win over Houston because of a bruised right forearm.
"He's fine. He's sore, but he's playable," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Denorfia suffered the injury when he raced into foul territory in right field to snag a Bill Hall drive. Denorfia made the catch, but crashed both his right arm and his right knee into the rail. After the game, Denorfia had swelling on his injured forearm.
"Actually, his knee hurts worse than the arm," said Black. "That big monkey bump on his arm, that's gone now."
Padres prospect Decker honored in Minors
CHICAGO -- Padres prospect Jaff Decker, an outfielder playing for Double-A San Antonio, is off to a hot start. On Monday, he was honored as the Texas League Player of the Week.
Decker hit .444 (12-for-27) last week with five doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs. For the season, he's hitting .366 with four homers and 15 RBIs. He leads all of Double-A with 35 total bases.
The Missions have been rolling offensively of late. San Antonio beat Tulsa, 23-10, on April 11. A few days later, it blasted Northwest Arkansas, 26-5.
Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.