SEATTLE -- Pitcher Joe Wieland's recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery continues to go very well, so much so that he's scheduled to throw live batting practice for the first time in Arizona on Saturday.
Last month, Wieland threw 100 pitches from the mound at the team's temporary Spring Training home in Surprise, Ariz. He's progressed since then, building strength in his right arm.
Now Wieland is ready for another challenge.
"It has gone well. My arm got a little tired … throwing three bullpens a week at 60, 70 and 100 pitches. But when you do that, your arm is going to fatigue," Wieland said. "Got me to a point where I'm ready to go."
Hitting all of his rehabilitation marks has helped Wieland's confidence.
"I think now it's gotten a little easier. You get to the 10-month mark and you start a normal routine. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now," Wieland said. "In the next couple of weeks, I'll have my first rehab assignment if all goes as planned."
Wieland and the organization are hopeful that he'll be ready to start a Minor League rehab assignment in late June. That first game would likely come in Arizona, in an extended spring game that does not count. But that won't matter to Wieland.
It's a game.
"The first one will probably be in Arizona … so there will be 10 people in the stands and maybe nine of them will be scouts," Wieland said.
As excited as he is to return this season, Wieland continues to be vigilant about not moving too fast.
"I still have to take it easy. I can't push it now. Once I'm off the DL and back to 100 percent you can, but now is not the time to have a setback. I still have to be a little cautious," Wieland said. "But at the same time, I'm very confident in how my elbow feels."
Padres pitchers, Black recall working with Yocum
SEATTLE -- Padres pitcher Clayton Richard wasn't one of the many players who had their careers saved by Dr. Lewis Yocum, though that doesn't mean Richard wasn't thankful for the for the work that he did.
"In baseball, you hear the name and everyone knows who he is," Richard said of Yocum. "Not all players have that. He left a legacy."
Yocum passed away from liver cancer last weekend at the age of 65, according to the Angels. Yocum had spent the past 36 seasons as the Angels team physician.
Richard saw Yocum in 2011 when he received a second opinion on his left shoulder, one on which he eventually had surgery.
San Diego pitcher Cory Luebke had reconstructive elbow surgery last May by Yocum. He saw Yocum in Spring Training after suffering a setback in his rehabilitation. Luebke could tell that Yocum wasn't well.
"You could tell something was going on with him," Luebke said.
Luebke might well have been one of Yocum's last patients.
"From the get-go, he was a nice, honest guy. A down-to-earth guy," Luebke said by phone Tuesday from San Diego, where he continues his recovery. "He cared about his work. He had a great passion for the game and helping athletes."
San Diego manager Bud Black, who was the pitching coach of the Angels from 2000-06, actually had knee surgery done by Yocum during his time in Anaheim.
"What a great man," Black said.