"I walked past the door twice," said Luebke, who last played at Wrigley in 2011. "It's been a few years."
Maybe not the smoothest path, but he made it. Similar to how this season has gone so far for Luebke, who strained his right hamstring in Spring Training, recovered in time to make the Opening Day roster, then was put on the DL after giving up three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
The Pirates optioned right-hander A.J. Schugel to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear room for Luebke, who will likely fill a role similar to Schugel's.
"He can throw multiple innings if we need it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Gives us another left-hander earlier, so he's got an opportunity to touch the ball a couple of different ways."
Luebke had a 2.92 ERA and made seven appearances in his Triple-A rehab assignment, and he said his hamstring issue is cleared up. An MRI in Spring Training showed minor tears in the muscle, and the pain in his right leg caused him to alter his delivery and struggle with his command.
"It'll be good to get back out there not having to worry about that, just letting it go again," Luebke said.
Hurdle said reports on Leubke were overwhelmingly positive, and the Pirates hope the ensuing results will be the same.
"We chronicled this thing for a while now," Hurdle said. "He was stretched out to three innings, he pitched back-to-back days, he's gone left-on-left, he's thrown to the right-handers. Fastball velocity has ticked up in the past week to be consistent. The slider has developed shape and finish. So right now, the reports I've got, he's pitching the best I've seen him."
Schugel had a 4.96 ERA over 16 1/3 innings for the Pirates this season.
No off-day for Kang
Third baseman Jung Ho Kang was in the Pirates' starting lineup for the third consecutive day Sunday, an unexpected move after the Pirates said they planned to ease Kang back in with a two-on, one-off schedule.
Kang returned from a major surgery on his left knee and made his season debut May 6. In seven games since, Kang is hitting .250 with three home runs and six RBIs.
"There hasn't been a whole lot of activity," Hurdle said. "Defensive activity, baserunning activity. It's not a day game after a night game, it's a day game after a day game. There's a complete sleep cycle involved. We talked about it yesterday, and he was in a very good place to run back out there. We'll continue to monitor him. I'm not going to say it's going to happen all the time. This was an opportunity we felt good about taking with him."