SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Cory Luebke, on the disabled list since April after having Tommy John surgery, is nearing an important step in his rehabilitation from season-ending surgery to his left elbow.
Luebke, 11 weeks removed from surgery, will begin a strength program next week that is designed to build upper-body strength, including in the elbow itself.
"We're to the point now where we're starting to get a little more aggressive with the strength stuff," Luebke said. "Up to now, we've done a lot of the same stuff. But in the 12th week is where you begin working your upper body and elbow."
Up to this point, Luebke has done a lot of mobility exercises and stretching. He's encouraged that his elbow mobility is where it should be. Now comes another chapter in his rehabilitation.
"The next step is where you start to crank it up," he said. "But so far, everything has gone well."
At the time of his injury, Luebke was 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in five starts. He threw his last pitch on April 27 against the Giants. He'll likely miss the first half of the 2013 season.
Cashner, Bass throw bullpen sessions
SAN DIEGO -- The mood inside the Padres' clubhouse on Wednesday was upbeat, and not just because the team has won four of its last five games.
Pitchers Andrew Cashner and Anthony Bass, both currently on the disabled list, each threw a bullpen session at Petco Park hours before the Padres faced the Cubs.
The results for both were good, as was their disposition after each threw 30 or so pitches under the watchful eyes of manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley.
"It's an exciting day," Cashner said.
Cashner, on the disabled list since July 4 with a strained right lat muscle, threw fastballs and changeups on Wednesday. Bass -- on the disabled list since June 21 with inflammation in his right shoulder -- threw the same amount and types of pitches.
On Friday, both will head to the Padres' Spring Training facility in Arizona, where they will throw at least one more bullpen session, and possibly a simulated game, as they continue to build endurance.
"I was happy I didn't feel any pain," Bass said.
The upbeat mood shared by Cashner and Bass wasn't lost on Black.
"Any time you clear a hurdle and get back on the mound ... it really lifts a player up," Black said. "When you hit the mound and feel good, you feel better about what's happening."
Bass said that it's important that he gets back on a mound this season -- for his own peace of mind, and to prove something to the organization.
"I still feel that I have more to prove, and I want to finish strong and show the organization that I can contribute," he said.
Prospect Erlin helps Padres' affiliate throw no-no
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres might be the only Major League team without a no-hitter in franchise history, but one of their Minor League affiliates got to enjoy a no-no on Tuesday.
The Padres entry in the short-season Arizona League defeated their Giants counterparts, 3-1, as three pitchers combined on a nine-inning no-hitter.
Robbie Erlin, in Arizona on a rehabilitation stint from Double-A San Antonio, Bryan Rodriguez and Uber Paz each threw three no-hit innings.
"All three of them threw the ball pretty darn good," said San Diego vice president of player development and international scouting, Randy Smith. "It was a pretty cool deal."
Erlin, considered the Padres' sixth-best prospect according to MLB.com, is working his way back from a bout of tendinitis in his left elbow. His velocity on Tuesday was up to 92 mph, and he consistently sat at 91 mph.
Erlin has made two appearances in the Arizona League. He could make another appearance Sunday, but the organization may decide to send him out to one of their other affiliates.
"We're pretty happy where he is," Smith said.
As for the other pitchers who combined on the no-hitter, Rodriguez is a 21-year-old right-hander who is 6-foot-5 and approximately 200 pounds. He missed the entire 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery. But his velocity is back, as evidenced by his work Tuesday, as he topped out at 97 mph and sat at 92.
Paz, also a 21-year-old right-hander, doesn't have the upside of Rodriguez. He has a 5.63 ERA in three Minor League stops this season, but he was dynamite on Tuesday.
Pitcher Tim Stauffer, on the disabled list since May 15 with a strained right elbow, threw 39 pitches in his second Minor League rehabilitation appearance on Tuesday with Class A Lake Elsinore. He was at Petco Park on Wednesday, where he told manager Bud Black that his elbow felt good and that he was encouraged with his 1 2/3 inning stint. There's no timetable set as to when he'll pitch again.