Kennedy improving in recovery from hamstring injury

Padres starter eligible to return from disabled list on April 25

Kennedy improving in recovery from hamstring injury

CHICAGO -- Pitcher Ian Kennedy cleared another hurdle in his recovery from a strained left hamstring on Friday, as he threw between 25-30 pitches in a bullpen session at Wrigley Field.

Kennedy, who threw a similar session on Wednesday in San Diego, will head to Arizona for a Minor League rehab start on Monday with the expectation that if all goes well, the team will activate him from the disabled list when he's eligible on April 25.

"And I get to sleep in my own bed," said Kennedy, who still has a home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Kennedy, who left his first start of the season on April 9 in the third inning, said he is fortunate the injury wasn't more significant than it was.

"I didn't feel it pop, so that was good," Kennedy said. "They thought it had spasmed. After Day 3, it felt good. I'm happy it wasn't anything real serious."

So are the Padres, who are counting on contributions from Kennedy like the ones they received a year ago when he surpassed the 200-inning and 200-strikeout marks.

"With hamstrings, you never really know how significant they are. Ian felt good about it. Medical staff felt good about the degree of the strain, and we felt as though it was going to be short-term," said San Diego manager Bud Black. "Sure enough, it's turned out to be that."

Black said Kennedy will pitch in an extended spring camp game, and he could throw "anywhere from 70 to 90 pitches down there in Arizona, hopefully five innings or so."

Despaigne's great relief work

In Kennedy's place, Odrisamer Despaigne -- who was the long man out of the bullpen -- has allowed one earned run in 11 2/3 innings. He allowed one run over seven innings on April 14 against the D-backs.

Despaigne will start Monday against the Rockies in Colorado. The next time that spot in the rotation rolls around is April 25, the day Kennedy is eligible to be reinstated from the DL.

At this point, Kennedy's hamstring is fine. Now it's about building up his pitch count and his endurance.

"That's one of the big reasons we want to make that rehab start ... to make sure [endurance] is still up there," Kennedy said. "I have been throwing on the side, [and I threw] a 40-pitch flat ground [session] a few days after the injury. I'm just trying to keep up on my arm strength, doing all my upper-body work. I think I'll be all right."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.