Padres News: Cory Luebke Realistic About Return From Second Tommy John Surgery

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It’s been three years, three long years since Cory Luebke last stepped on a major league mound for the San Diego Padres. But after facing off against one of the greats of the most recent era in Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies at the time, Luebke felt what he told Corey Brock of MLB.com, as “a little nervy feeling [in the elbow]…” From that point what had been a pleasant start to a big league career through parts of two big league seasons, would soon turn in to a nightmare.

Selected 63rd overall by the Padres in the 2007 First Year Player Draft, Luebke joined the Friars first as a reliever, and then was inserted into the starting rotation in 2011. A 3.29 ERA in just under 140 frames, had the team believing that the homegrown hurler was a solid investment, and they rewarded Luebke with an extension for $12 million dollars.

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After feeling the uneasiness in his arm following that start against the Phils, things went from bad to worse. Luebke allowed six earned runs against the San Francisco Giants and came out of the game after what Brock termed “a coiling up” of Luebke’s arm. That was at the end of April, and by the end of the following month, Dr. Lewis Yokum had performed the now-famous Tommy John procedure, in what was one of the final surgeries Yokum handled for a player prior to his death later that year.

Luebke’s work ethic and positive attitude was never in question during his first rehab stint, but he felt he wasn’t making the progress he should be making at certain points:

"“There was some doubt with me with the first rehab when we got to the 12-, 13-month mark and I didn’t feel what I imagined I should feel like. It was a continuous struggle. I remember thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’ I remember telling my dad, ‘This isn’t right,'”"

(h/t, Corey Brock, MLB.com)

A follow-up MRI in January of 2014, revealed the worst possible scenario: Luebke had suffered another partial tear of the UCL, which would require a second Tommy John procedure. The second time around, Dr. James Andrews used a portion of a ligament from Luebke’s right knee, and created three loops to attach the ligament to the bone.

If Luebke is looking for company or advice as he continues to recover from his second procedure, he doesn’t have to look far. Newly acquired reliever Shawn Kelley has had a pair of TJ procedures along with Josh Johnson. Kelley has been a productive reliever for both the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, while Johnson is coming back from his own second TJ procedure this spring.

"“My dad always tells me that something good is going to come of this, that we don’t know what it is yet but eventually there’s going to be some light at the end of this tunnel,”"

The Padres believe in Cory Luebke, and his talent has kept him working hard and pushing to make one more comeback from injury. Second TJ procedures seem to be becoming more and more commonplace with big league hurlers. If Cory Luebke takes his time, continues his rehab: he’s been playing catch at the 90 foot mark, with goals of extending that to 115, then 120 feet respectively in the coming weeks, then perhaps the talent and hard work that has been his trademark will translate to on-field success. Just getting back on a big league mound in a regular season game will be considered a major victory for the 30-year old.

Next: Padres First Full Squad Workout In The Books

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