Luebke to rehab arm in San Diego during season opener

SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Cory Luebke, who had reconstructive surgery on his left elbow last May, has been playing catch for the last week.

This is a far cry from where Luebke has been, as he was shut down from playing catch for six weeks this spring because of soreness.

"We're happy with it now. … I'm happy with it," Luebke said Tuesday.

The six weeks of inactivity might not actually change Luebke's timeline for returning to pitching for the Padres -- mostly because there's no exact timeline for pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery. Some take a year, some take 14, 16 months.

Luebke doesn't seem concerned about it and has vowed that he will pitch for the Padres this season. He started playing catch from 60 feet on April 1 and has advanced to 75 feet.

Luebke will continue that throwing program until he advances to the point where the team is comfortable with him doing more and can send him on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.

Headley's thumb healing; he takes grounders

Headley on recovery expectations from broken thumb

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres were off on Monday, though there was still good news to be had regarding the injured left thumb of third baseman Chase Headley.

Headley, who fractured the tip of the thumb on March 17, had an X-ray and stress tests conducted on the thumb on Monday. The news was good.

"It's healing like it's supposed to," Headley said. "It feels good. [The team doctors] said that I can do as much or little as I want without pain."

Armed with that prognosis, Headley took some ground balls before the Padres faced the Dodgers. He also hit off a tee and played flip in the batting cage.

"The stress test … they pushed it all over," Headley said. "I have a good range of motion."

There's hope internally that Headley, who had a National-League leading 115 RBIs last season, could be able to play in Major League games by the end of the month following a Minor League rehabilitation stint with one of the team's affiliates.

"We are encouraged," said manager Bud Black. "We're really optimistic the four to six week guideline the doctors put on this might actually be closer to four.

"We knew this day was coming but didn't know when. This is a good thing."

The Padres, who used rookie Jedd Gyorko and Cody Ransom at third base in the opening week of the season, would like nothing more to get Headley back in the lineup. The team entered Tuesday's game against the Dodgers ranked 13th (out of 15 teams) in the league in batting average and runs.

No timeline on when Forsythe will return

2013 Outlook: Forsythe to benefit at smaller Petco

SAN DIEGO -- Infielder Logan Forsythe said he spent the opening week of the season in a place he never intended -- away from his teammates.

"It's tough. I hated it, sitting on the couch watching the guys," Forsythe said Tuesday.

Forsythe, who battled plantar fasciitis in his right foot for most of March, felt a "pop" in the foot in his last Spring Training game on March 26. He then returned to San Diego the following day where it was determined that he had partial tear.

In Forsythe's case, the connective tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of his foot essentially pulled away from or became detached from the heel bone.

Forsythe had his foot placed in the boot on March 27 and has been wearing it ever since. He has been told he needs to wear it one more week. The boot immobilizes the foot and promotes healing.

"We were going to try and manage the pain, but once it popped, I couldn't stand it," said Forsythe.

Forsythe would have likely filled in for Chase Headley at third base had he been healthy. Now, Forsythe is trying to get healthy himself, though there's no real timeline as to when he might return.

"We have to exhibit a lot of patience with this one," cautioned Padres manager Bud Black.

There was some good news to come from all this, Forsythe said.

"They think that after this it will be fine," Forsythe said.

Like Headley, who fractured the tip of his left thumb on March 17, Forsythe will need a stint in the Minor Leagues before he's able to return to the big leagues.

Worth noting

• The Padres have signed 27-year-old first baseman/outfielder Brandon Allen to a Minor League contract. Allen, who was released by the Rangers on April 1, has a .203/.290/.375 line over parts of four seasons with three teams. He will report to Triple-A Tucson. Allen hit a grand slam off San Diego reliever Luke Gregerson on Sept. 1, 2010.

• On Monday's day off, Black came to Petco Park for, among other things, to take a look at the ballpark modifications. In right-center field, the wall went from 402 feet to 391 feet and is eight feet high. The wall in left-center has been moved in from 402 feet to 390 feet.

"The wall is going to come into play a little bit. The shorter wall will impact balls hit to the wall," Black said. "Overall, the changes are positive. I was all for some subtle changes."

• Before Tuesday's sold-out home opener against the Dodgers, the Padres paid tribute to late bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who passed away June 24, 2012, after a nearly two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. Former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman revealed a plaque out in the home bullpen during the ceremony.

• The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by former Padres outfielder Greg Vaughn, the MVP of the 1999 NL champion team that lost to the Yankees in the World Series. Vaughn had 50 home runs and drove in 119 runs that season. Former teammate Carlos Hernandez, now a Spanish television broadcaster for the team, caught the pitch. On June 14, the Padres will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the 1998 season.