SAN DIEGO -- Chase Headley's sore lower back continues to plague the third baseman, keeping him out of his fifth straight game Monday. But manager Bud Black said Headley is improving.
"Chase is doing better," Black said prior to Monday's series opener against San Francisco. "He's going to take some swings in the cage. Marked improvement since [Sunday], but no timetable. Let's hope that Wednesday might be a good day. We are encouraged by how he's feeling."
Black also said that Headley will likely need Tuesday to run through a full workout and test his back, including taking ground balls and doing some running. Following that, the determination will be made as to whether he can play Wednesday.
Headley has been held out since Tuesday when he exited the game in Arizona with a stiff back in the fifth inning. He also missed 14 games at the start of the season with a thumb injury.
Logan Forsythe started at third base Monday.
Smith returns to Padres, could get start
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres recalled right-handed pitcher Burch Smith from Triple-A Tucson on Monday, reinforcing a pitching staff that could be in need of a starter soon.
Smith is coming off a solid start with Tucson in which he tossed seven shutout innings while striking out 10 batters and allowing only three hits and no walks. With Friday's spot in the starting rotation potentially available due to extra rest for Andrew Cashner, Smith could be in line to take that turn.
"He'll be in our bullpen today," Padres manager Bud Black said prior to Monday's game. "We are going to decide whether to give him a start here going forward. He's coming off a good start in his last outing with Tucson. He's feeling good."
While Black did not commit to a specific date for giving Smith a start, the 23-year-old could slide right into the rotation where he made three starts earlier this season. He has gone 0-1 with a 18.41 ERA in the starting rotation, but posted a 5-1 record with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts for Tucson.
This will be Smith's fourth stint with the Padres, having shuttled back and forth from Tucson in his first season in the Majors. Smith has also made three relief appearances for the Padres, allowing one run over 5 1/3 innings.
• First baseman Yonder Alonso will have an MRI on his injured right hand to help determine what is causing the pain. Alonso has been out since Friday with the injury.
"He's going to get it scanned and we are going to really see what is causing the problem in his hand," Black said. "It's a different situation than when he had a broken bone in that wrist. This is a little bit of recurring pain. He's hoping that this quiets down and he can get back to playing."
• Black and general manager Josh Byrnes watched left-hander Cory Luebke's throwing session in the bullpen prior to Monday's game. Luebke threw about 70 pitches as he works his way back from elbow surgery, and Black had a positive impression of Luebke's progress.
"We are very encouraged by how he's throwing," Black said. "Cory is encouraged. He's making progress, so I think this will be an important time for him. Let's keep our fingers crossed that he keeps clearing his hurdles and he can get to the point where in October he is pitching in competitive games in the instructional league, or quite possibly, in the Dominican Republic. We've still got to get through this month, but the way it's going is very encouraging."
Tim Powers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.