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Polanco throwing, hopes for April-May return

Pirates' right fielder recovering from left shoulder surgery
MLB.com @adamdberry

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Gregory Polanco underwent left shoulder surgery on Sept. 12, the Pirates offered a vague timetable for his recovery that implied he could return as early as mid-April or as late as mid-June. Unsurprisingly, Polanco wants to be back sooner rather than later.

Polanco played catch on Monday at the Pirate City complex, beginning his second week of throwing and reporting feeling no pain. The Pirates will get a better sense for Polanco's progress as he continues his throwing program, but he's hoping it will be on the early side of the club's initial projection.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Gregory Polanco underwent left shoulder surgery on Sept. 12, the Pirates offered a vague timetable for his recovery that implied he could return as early as mid-April or as late as mid-June. Unsurprisingly, Polanco wants to be back sooner rather than later.

Polanco played catch on Monday at the Pirate City complex, beginning his second week of throwing and reporting feeling no pain. The Pirates will get a better sense for Polanco's progress as he continues his throwing program, but he's hoping it will be on the early side of the club's initial projection.

"I'm working really hard to be back sooner than what everybody expects," he said. "If I start in mid-April or the beginning of May, I'll take it. I just don't want to be into June or July. That's too late. I'm working really hard."

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Polanco began hitting in January. He took batting practice on the field Monday morning. Last week, he threw from a distance of 60 feet. On Monday, he said he started throwing from 60 feet then worked his way up to 75 or 80 feet.

"Every week, I'm making progress. That's a good thing," Polanco said. "We're working really hard."

Polanco sustained an acute dislocation of his left shoulder after an awkward slide into second base on Sept. 7. He had surgery to repair his labrum and stabilize the shoulder. Throwing will be the greatest test of his surgically repaired left shoulder, and it won't necessarily be a quick one.

"I know the process is going to be slow. I have a schedule. I'm not trying to rush anything," Polanco said. "Just working hard every day, trying to do my stuff and do extra sometimes. ... Everything's good. My body feels great."

Polanco broke out at the plate last season, slashing .254/.340/.499 with a team-leading 23 homers in 130 games. He spent most of his offseason in Florida, rehabbing the shoulder and strengthening his legs.

"Just try to put everything together so when I come back, I want to be 100 percent," he said.

Tweet from @Pirates: We've missed all of this. ������������#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/T4Xl8gATgo

Archer ready to go
After having surgery on Nov. 27 to repair a bilateral hernia, right-hander Chris Archer said he is preparing for a normal Spring Training. That's good news for the Pirates and especially for Archer, who's coming off a rare season interrupted by injuries.

Archer was sidelined for a little more than a month last year due to a left abdominal strain, and he missed his final start of the season due to what the Pirates called "continued discomfort of a left groin strain" from earlier in the year. He didn't want to dive into the details -- or the impact those injuries may have had last season.

"That's behind me. It doesn't matter when it started," he said. "The fact of the matter is it's not there anymore. That's what I'm focused on."

Instead, Archer is looking forward. He exited the rehabilitation phase weeks ago, he said, and he has already thrown four bullpen sessions with a fifth one scheduled for this week.

"It's pretty normal. We're going to start slow," Archer said. "We're not going to rush into anything, but by the first week of the season, I'll be able to throw over 100 pitches. That's the goal. We've got six weeks. I think there won't be any issues."

Around the horn
• Right-handers Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana, both recovering from Tommy John surgery, played catch on Monday morning. It was the first time either pitcher had thrown since undergoing surgery, and both reported the session went well.

Kuhl and Santana will sit out this season with an eye on returning in 2020.

• Monday was the official report date for Pirates pitchers and catchers, but they only had to check in at Pirate City. They will take their pre-Spring Training physical exams on Tuesday morning before working out for the first time on Wednesday morning.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Gregory Polanco