SAN DIEGO -- The last time Casey Kelly threw a pitch in a game that actually mattered, one that counted, was on Sept. 27, 2012, a start against the Dodgers at Petco Park.
Kelly needed Tommy John surgery the following April, setting in place a long and winding rehabilitation process that has not only gone relatively smoothly but one that has brought him to a start Saturday for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore.
"Getting into a real game is definitely going to be a lot of fun," Kelly said.
Kelly threw two longer stints in extended spring training games in Arizona in April and has advanced to the point where he'll throw four innings or 60 pitches Saturday for the Storm against Inland Empire in a game in San Bernardino.
"Now it's just the next step … getting into harder competition," Kelly said. "The last outing [in Arizona] was four innings, 60 pitches and the next will be the same, only with higher intensity."
For as excited as Kelly is to start his rehabilitation stint -- the Padres haven't said how many times that he'll pitch there -- he's approaching it with some degree of caution.
"I'm still trying to build my stamina, getting comfortable on the mound and game situations," Kelly said.
As for others in the game -- and in his own organization -- who have taken longer coming off the same surgery or like Cory Luebke and Josh Johnson, who both needed a second surgery, Kelly said he can only worry about himself and taking care of his elbow moving ahead.
"Each case is very, very different," Kelly said. "I'm very lucky to have gone through the process moving forward without any big setbacks. I've just been worried about hitting each milestone."
Kelly, regarded as the fourth-best prospect in the Padres' system by MLB.com, was 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts for the Padres in August and September 2012.
Quentin nears return and Padres need his bat
SAN DIEGO -- Could the Padres, who ranked last in the Major Leagues in runs, get Carlos Quentin back by the end of this 10-game homestand?
San Diego manager Bud Black said Friday that Quentin -- on the disabled list since the end of March with a bone bruise to his left knee -- will begin a Minor League rehabilitation stint Saturday with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore on the road against Inland Empire in San Bernardino.
Black wouldn't say how long the stint would be, though he indicated it would entail at least three or four games.
"It's going to be more than a couple of games," Black said. "We'll speak with Carlos daily to see how he's feeling. If he's feeling good, his timing is good, getting his game stamina, it could quicken his return."
The Padres need Quentin's bat, as the team went into Friday's game against the D-backs with 77 runs -- or 2.66 runs per game. The Astros rank 29th in the Majors but have scored 11 more runs than the Padres.
"More than likely, we have to fix it with the guys we have here," said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes.
If the Padres get Quentin back by the end of the homestand, they could also get third baseman Chase Headley (strained right calf) back when he's eligible to come off the disabled list May 9.
Headley set for rehab assignment next week
SAN DIEGO -- Third baseman Chase Headley, who has been on the disabled list with a strained right calf since April 25, ran on the field for the first time since suffering the injury.
Better still, Headley said, he's pain-free, already knee-deep in baseball activities and plans on making a Minor League rehabilitation appearance next week.
"It feels good, really good," Headley said before the Padres opened a three-game series against the D-backs at Petco Park.
Headley, who suffered an injury to the same calf in an infield drill in Spring Training, said the extent of this injury wasn't nearly as bad.
Headley left a game on April 24 against the Nationals after straining the calf running to first base. He knew right away this wouldn't be like the injury he suffered during February when he needed crutches to get around the day after suffering the strain.
There was some confusion last week if the strain Headley suffered in spring was to his left calf, but it was indeed his right calf again.
Headley is eligible to come off the disabled list May 9 and could be ready after getting some at-bats and playing time in the field next week, either for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore or Triple-A El Paso.
"It feels good, so there's no reason to sit around," he said.