07/14/12 8:38 PM ET
Kelly making strides with simulated game in rehab
Padres' top prospect working his way back from right elbow strain
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
"It's been a lot longer than I thought it would be," Kelly said Saturday.
Kelly, ranked as the Padres' top prospect by MLB.com, has been in Arizona since February, when the right-handed pitcher reported for Spring Training.
With the exception of a short trip to San Diego, he hasn't left Arizona since, as he's been working to rehabilitate an elbow strain that sidelined him in April.
Kelly, 22, appears to have turned a corner in his rehabilitation. After a setback early on, he took three weeks off from throwing and took antibiotics that have helped. He's been pain-free ever since and on Saturday threw his first simulated game at the team's Spring Training facility in Peoria.
"The last two months have been good," Kelly said. "The recovery has been better. It's been really tough just because before that. It was a day-to-day thing to see how it felt.
"I think that I'm headed in the right direction."
Kelly, who began the season at Triple-A Tucson and made two starts before being sidelined, has thrown three bullpen sessions. After Saturday's simulated game, he'll likely throw another next week. If that goes well, he could pitch for the Padres' Arizona League team in the near future.
"You want to get back out there and start playing again," Kelly said. "But at the same time, there's no point if you're hurt. The elbow, the first couple of months, didn't feel right."
Kelly made two starts with Tucson in April and had a 2.25 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings with no walks. It was at that point where his elbow first began to bother him. He flew to San Diego for an MRI that revealed no structural damage. Then it was off to Arizona for rehabilitation.
"This thing has been so crazy," Kelly said. "It's really been up and down ... one day my elbow felt good, the next day it felt bad. It took a toll on me mentally. But I've had a lot of support from the trainers and my family and friends. It could have been worse. I could have ended up having surgery."
Now, Kelly has his eye on making up for lost time.
"I'm a competitor," he said. "It's hard to sit here and watching my teammates play online. I want to get out there and play. For me, innings-wise in my development, I need to pitch as many innings as possible."
Black loves what Maybin doing with his glove
LOS ANGELES -- As a former pitcher, it's no small wonder why Padres manager Bud Black enjoyed a fine defensive play.
That held true Friday when Black got a kick out of the diving catch center fielder Cameron Maybin made in left-center field to rob the Dodgers' A.J. Ellis of an extra-base hit.
Maybin's catch comes on the heels of the fine grab he made on the last day of the first half, a leaping grab at the wall at Petco Park on July 8 to rob the Reds' Joey Votto of an extra-base hit and possibly a home run.
"They're up there," Black said when asked how he rated those catches in consecutive games by Maybin. "The one at Petco was one of the best of the year."
That said, Black said there was something about the catch Maybin had in the fifth inning Friday to rob Ellis that really stood out to him.
"That's one of my favorite catches ... when the outfielder is horizontal to the ground," Black said.
After making the catch, Maybin remained on the grass for a moment before slowly climbing to his feet. Maybin told Black afterward that the contact with the ground after the grab momentarily robbed him of his breath.
"That's a play that when you see a guy go down, it's like, 'Get up, get up.' And he got up," Black said.
Possible surgery puts Owings' conversion on hold
LOS ANGELES -- This was supposed to be the weekend that Micah Owings gave his first go at being a position player a try, as he was to have reported to Triple-A Tucson on Thursday.
Instead, Owings -- on the disabled list since April 26 with a strained right forearm -- is contemplating surgery, according to Padres manager Bud Black.
Owings apparently had a setback last week between the time he was taking batting practice at Petco Park and before he left for Tucson, where he was to play some first base, left field and also serve as a designated hitter.
The forearm injury that Owings suffered in April hadn't progressed enough to the point where he could pitch again, so Owings asked the Padres if he could pursue being a position player until he was able to throw.
The 29-year-old Owings, who signed a one-year deal worth $1 million in the offseason, is a career .283 hitter in 219 plate appearances over six Major League seasons. He has nine home runs and 35 RBIs.
Owings was 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA in six appearances for the Padres earlier this season before landing on the DL.