PHOENIX -- Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after sitting out the past three days while being monitored for post-concussion symptoms.Cervelli took a foul ball off the left side of his facemask on Saturday and exited the game early. The official diagnosis of his injury
PHOENIX -- Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after sitting out the past three days while being monitored for post-concussion symptoms.
Cervelli took a foul ball off the left side of his facemask on Saturday and exited the game early. The official diagnosis of his injury was a jaw contusion, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said, but the Pirates had to monitor Cervelli for several days and play a man short before he could be cleared to play.
Cervelli was not under concussion protocol, according to Tomczyk, but there are guidelines that the team must follow after every injury involving a blow to the head or face. The Pirates ran Cervelli, who has missed time due to concussions as recently as last season, through a pair of on-field workouts on Monday and Tuesday. Club physicians performed follow-up exams and submitted the results to the MLB Commissioner's Office and the MLB Players Association, both of which had to sign off to clear Cervelli.
"It's rather complex at times," Tomczyk said.
With Cervelli back in the lineup, the Pirates will likely return catcher Jacob Stallings to Triple-A Indianapolis this weekend. Stallings and Elias Diaz were available off the bench on Wednesday, but they did not play. Cervelli went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored in Pittsburgh's 5-4 win.
Polanco's hamstrings being treated
Right fielder Gregory Polanco has been receiving treatment for hamstring soreness the past two weeks, manager Clint Hurdle said, part of the reason he pulled up while running to first base during Tuesday's loss at Chase Field.
Polanco missed significant time due to hamstring injuries last year, and he continues to receive regular, preventative treatment, Tomczyk said. After hitting a grounder in the fifth inning on Tuesday, Polanco slowed down rather than trying to beat first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the bag. Hurdle said the Pirates clocked Polanco's time to first base at 4.68 seconds.
"I think it got to the point in time where he's trying to get down the line, saw he was going to be out and said, 'OK, I don't want to injure myself,'" Hurdle said. "Knowing what our guy's going through and knowing what he's working with, I had a conversation internally here. I think we're all understanding of what happened and what we need to do as far as our effort down the line."
The injury has not kept Polanco out of the four-man outfield rotation, however, as he started Wednesday for the second straight game. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on Josh Harrison's groundout, and he hustled down the line to leg out an infield single in the sixth inning.
New, old pitch for Feliz
Looking for a new weapon to keep hitters off-balance after a rough stretch, reliever Michael Feliz has reincorporated a splitter into his arsenal. Feliz used to throw the pitch as a starter in the Astros' system, but he shelved it when he reached the Majors.
After seeing his ERA climb over 6.00 and losing hold of his setup role, Feliz told pitching coach Ray Searage he wanted to dust off his old splitter so opposing hitters had to prepare for something other than his fastball and slider. Feliz allowed a home run on the pitch last Thursday, but he used it effectively as he struck out two in a scoreless inning on Tuesday.
"I want to work to get myself back to where I was," Feliz said. "Just keep working, keep talking to Ray, do my homework, watch video, work on my mechanics and try to get myself back as soon as I can."
Reliever Richard Rodriguez (right shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, and Tomczyk said the Pirates are "very encouraged" that Rodriguez will be able to come off the disabled list soon after he's eligible to return on Sunday.
Reliever A.J. Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) is scheduled to begin a throwing program next week. Right-handed Rule 5 Draft pick Nick Burdi (Tommy John surgery) has thrown two live batting practice sessions in Florida. Non-roster outfielder Daniel Nava (back surgery) has been shut down after a setback in his recovery.
Pirates sign nine Draft picks
The Pirates announced nine MLB Draft signings on Wednesday night: outfielders Jonah Davis (15th round) and Brendt Citta (38th); infielders Chase Lambert (31st) and Dean Lockery (32nd); right-handers Colin Selby (16th), Will Kobos (19th), Conner Loeprich (20th) and Will Gardner (21st); and left-hander Joe Jacques (33rd). Loeprich will join short-season Class A West Virginia, and the rest were assigned to Rookie-level Bristol.
The Pirates have now signed 19 of their Draft picks. First-round outfielder Travis Swaggerty has not yet been signed.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.