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Archer on track to make next scheduled start

Harrison (hamstring) available off bench; Rodriguez near rehab assignment
August 22, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates are optimistic that right-hander Chris Archer will start this weekend after exiting his start on Monday due to left leg discomfort.Archer played catch on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, manager Clint Hurdle said. If everything goes

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates are optimistic that right-hander Chris Archer will start this weekend after exiting his start on Monday due to left leg discomfort.
Archer played catch on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, manager Clint Hurdle said. If everything goes well, Archer will make his scheduled start on Sunday against the Brewers at Miller Park. Archer is tentatively listed to pitch in the series finale after Joe Musgrove works the opener on Friday and Jameson Taillon starts on Saturday.
"He reported the next day that if he had to pitch, he could pitch that next day," director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said on Wednesday, noting that Archer was removed on Monday as a precaution.
Trainer's room
Shortstop Jordy Mercer (left calf strain) is hitting, fielding grounders and running, Tomczyk said, but not yet running at full speed. Mercer is eligible to return from the disabled list on Saturday.
Second baseman Josh Harrison (left hamstring) did not start on Wednesday but was available off the bench. Last week, Harrison said he finally felt fully healthy a month after sustaining a hamstring strain, but it flared up again on Sunday. With regular rest, Harrison and the Pirates hope he can manage the injury the rest of the season.
"Josh is a veteran player. He knows his body. He knows what he can and can't push through," Tomczyk said. "He's going to pick and choose his spots when he can run hard, when he needs to run hard and what that looks like."
Super-utility man Sean Rodriguez (left abdomen strain) could soon begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Rodriguez, out since Aug. 6, has hit .163/.276/.313 in 63 games this season.
Infielder Jungho Kang (left wrist surgery) was cleared to resume gripping activities. Tomczyk said the Pirates hope to have him pick up a bat this week, and the club is "still hopeful and optimistic" that he will play this season, either for Triple-A Indianapolis or in Pittsburgh.
Right-hander Chad Kuhl (forearm strain) is playing catch from 90 feet. Tomczyk said the Pirates are "optimistic and encouraged" by his progress and hope to have him pitch before the end of the season.
Right-handed relievers A.J. Schugel (shoulder) and Nick Burdi (Tommy John recovery) are pitching out of the bullpen on a Minor League rehab assignment with Indianapolis.
Third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, who is ranked the club's No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, tripped coming out of the batter's box and landed awkwardly on his left shoulder on Sunday. Hayes is currently day to day with a left shoulder contusion, Tomczyk said, and his status is being evaluated by the Double-A Altoona training staff.
Around the horn
• Center fielder Starling Marte returned to the lineup on Wednesday night after coming off the bench the past two days.
• Archer attended the Steelers' practice on Wednesday. He wore an Antonio Brown jersey to PNC Park on his first day as a Pirate and said his mother is a longtime Steelers fan.

• The Pirates and their opponents combined to score 17 runs in six games between Thursday and Tuesday. According to STATS LLC, the Bucs have only been involved in one six-game span during the live-ball era (since 1920) with fewer total runs scored: May 10-17, 1968, when they scored 16 runs.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.