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Polanco progressing in shoulder rehab

Right fielder on track to return between mid-April, mid-June
February 20, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. – Watching Gregory Polanco in the batting cage during the Pirates’ early Spring Training workouts, you might not realize he’s recovering from a major surgery. Polanco looks strong and healthy, and he’s hitting the ball with authority during batting practice. Polanco is swinging the bat “without any reservations

BRADENTON, Fla. – Watching Gregory Polanco in the batting cage during the Pirates’ early Spring Training workouts, you might not realize he’s recovering from a major surgery. Polanco looks strong and healthy, and he’s hitting the ball with authority during batting practice.

Polanco is swinging the bat “without any reservations and restrictions,” Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday, but he is still working his way through a throwing program – the greatest test of his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Polanco is playing catch from between 90-100 feet. He’s reporting no pain during those throwing sessions.

“The amount of work Gregory Polanco has put forth so far this offseason is awesome. He’s come in in the best shape of his life,” Tomczyk said. “He’s the strongest he’s ever been as a Pirate. Everything is trending very upward right now. We are cautiously optimistic.”

That cautious optimism doesn’t necessarily mean the Pirates think Polanco will be ready sooner than expected, however. Tomczyk said the right fielder’s return date will still fall within the initial projection of 7-9 months after surgery – sometime between mid-April and mid-June.

“Considering the significant surgery that he underwent, this truly is day-to-day,” Tomczyk said. “How he responds to the volume of throwing will really indicate when we move forward and how we move forward.”

Polanco hopes to return on the front end of that rehabilitation timeframe, closer to April than June, but he understands that throwing will come along more slowly than the rest of his recovery.

“Just try to put everything together,” Polanco said last week. “When I come back, I want to be 100 percent.”

TRAINER'S ROOM

• Catcher Elias Diaz sat out of Wednesday’s workout due to an illness, Tomczyk said. He will be reevaluated on Thursday morning.

• Right-handers Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer are “on target to begin the season healthy” after undergoing core/abdominal surgery early in the offseason, Tomczyk said. Archer pitched a round of live batting practice on Wednesday, and Musgrove threw a bullpen session.

“They’re going through the normal Spring Training progression,” Tomczyk said.

Musgrove is scheduled to pitch the Pirates’ third game of the season in Cincinnati. Archer’s first assignment is Pittsburgh’s home opener on April 1 at PNC Park.

• Right-handers Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana, who are recovering from Tommy John surgery, have experienced no setbacks since they began playing catch last week. They will be throwing on flat ground for “quite some time,” Tomczyk said. Neither is expected to pitch for the Pirates this season, but they hope to rejoin the club in 2020.

SPRING BROADCAST SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

The Pirates on Wednesday revealed their full broadcast schedule for the upcoming Grapefruit League season. Every game this spring will be covered by one of the team’s broadcast partners: AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, KDKA-FM and the Pirates Radio Network, along with online streaming at Pirates.com.

AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh will air 10 games on television, including the Pirates’ only night game at LECOM Park against the Rays on March 15. KDKA-FM and the Pirates Radio Network will carry 16 Spring Training games, including Pittsburgh’s first three Grapefruit League contests. Five games will be available on both TV and radio in the Pittsburgh area.

Greg Brown, Joe Block, Steve Blass, Bob Walk and John Wehner will return to the Pirates’ broadcast booth throughout this season.

PIRATES WORLD SERIES CHAMP PASSES

Joe Gibbon, a former Pirates pitcher who played on the 1960 World Series championship club, passed away on Wednesday morning. He was 83 years old. He died of natural causes, according to the team.

Gibbon pitched for the Pirates for eight seasons, going 44-46 with a 3.61 ERA in 824 2/3 innings over 248 appearances. The left-hander from Hickory, Miss., went 4-2 with a 4.03 ERA for the 1960 Pirates over 27 appearances, including nine starts. He made two appearances in the 1960 World Series.