7/10/2013 11:22 P.M. ET
Army veteran Hooker named Padres' Tribute honoree
By Corey Brock and Jamal Collier / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego resident Josh Hooker was named the Padres' representative for the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, a national initiative by Major League Baseball and People magazine that recognizes military veterans.
Each Major League club has a representative that will participate in the festivities during All-Star week and will be recognized on Tuesday before the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field.
Hooker enlisted as a member of the U.S. Army and served as a member of an Army Scout Team after graduating high school. While in Iraq during the summer of 2006, Hooker was riding in a Humvee that was struck by an IED that killed one of his good friends and mangled his left leg.
He endured dozens of surgeries and skin grafts before making the decision to have his left leg amputated below the knee for a chance to regain his mobility.
Soon after, he was riding a bike again, cycling through the city for as many as 50 miles a day.
He also volunteers with CAF Operation Rebound and Canine Companions for Independence and works as a high school football coach.
Along with MLB and People, a guest panel that included Padres third baseman Chase Headley helped with the selection process of 90 finalists, and the fans voted on the 30 winners.
Padres to call on O'Sullivan for spot start
SAN DIEGO -- In a somewhat surprising move, the Padres will go beyond their 40-man roster for Friday's starting pitcher against the Giants.
The Padres intend to purchase the contract of 25-year-old right-hander Sean O'Sullivan before Friday's game.
O'Sullivan, who was scheduled to pitch Wednesday for Triple-A Tucson, is 7-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 18 starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
"Sean has pitched very well … it's much deserving," said Padres manager Bud Black.
The Padres opted to pick O'Sullivan over Tim Stauffer, as Black would prefer to keep him accustomed to working long relief or even short relief on occasions. Sullivan has been starting all season, and he has better stamina and would conceivably be able to work deeper into a game.
"With Stauff, he's been away from making starts for a while," Black said. "The pitch-count issue won't be a problem with Sean. I think this [O'Sullivan] works better for starting a game."
O'Sullivan, a San Diego native who attended Valhalla High and Grossmont College, has a 6.31 ERA in 43 big league games with the Angels (2009-10) and Royals (2010-11).
He signed a Minor League contract before the season and pitched well in Spring Training, posting a 1.73 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.
"He was one of the guys who it came down to making a tough decision at the end," Black said of the way O'Sullivan pitched in Spring Training.
He's not a bad hitter, either. O'Sullivan was 12-for-31 with a grand slam and 12 RBIs for Tucson. He had even been used as a pinch-hitter on five occasions.
Luebke hopeful for return to Padres this season
SAN DIEGO -- Time might be working against him, but Padres left-hander Cory Luebke said he is still holding out hope he will pitch in a big league game this season.
But Luebke, who had reconstructive surgery on his left elbow in May 2012, has learned an important lesson during a rehabilitation that has included two periods where his throwing program was halted.
"First, it looked like May, then July … I don't want to jinx it again," Luebke said.
Luebke is back throwing again after several stops-and-starts during his rehabilitation. He's currently at 120 feet, working up from 60, 90 to 120 feet with 150 feet still to go before he can return to a mound.
"It feels better," Luebke said of the elbow. "We're being a little more cautious, making sure that I don't push it."
The return timeframe for pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery ranges between 12 and 18 months. Because no two cases are alike, those estimates are exactly just that -- estimates.
The Padres have mapped out a rough plan for Luebke that could have him throwing in a game in late August or early September if he hits all of his rehabilitation marks.
"I hope like heck I can," Luebke said, when asked if he'll pitch in a game this season.
He said for now he's not going to worry about the particulars of where and when he will make his return.
"I'm to the point where we'll about that later," Luebke said.
Gyorko notches two hits to open rehab assignment
SAN DIEGO -- Injured Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko began his rehab assignment with Class A Lake Elsinore on Wednesday, going 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. He played six innings at second base.
He may not be there for long, as Padres manager Bud Black hinted that the club may soon bump Gyorko up to Triple-A.
"Our guys will keep tabs on him," Black said.
It was the first game action for Gyorko since June 26, when he attempted his first rehab assignment in Triple-A but had to leave the game with tightness in his right leg.
Since then, the Padres have been cautionary with Gyorko to avoid another setback.
He's been on the disabled list since June 10 with a right groin strain and had been participating in full pregame activities as well as doing some extra running since the team returned home Monday.
• The Padres put a tidy bow on their 31-player 2013 Draft class Wednesday when Tulane pitcher Tony Rizzotti signed for an over-slot deal ($175,000). Rizzotti, a right-hander who has touched 95 mph, was a Draft-eligible sophomore who had a 2.22 ERA in 12 starts.
Rizzotti has had surgeries on both of his knees, the last in 2011. The Padres feel he would have been a fourth- or fifth-round pick had he returned to Tulane. He will eventually head to short-season Eugene.
"There's a lot to like," said San Diego scouting director Billy Gasparino.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.