Notes: Martin slides for first time since injury

Taillon throws from 90 feet; Archer, Kuhl, Burdi toss live BP

February 19th, 2020

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Outfield prospect , the Pirates' No. 18 prospect per MLB Pipeline, reported to Spring Training feeling healthy, and perhaps a little ahead of schedule, after undergoing left shoulder surgery in mid-October. On Tuesday, he finally cleared the last hurdle in his rehabilitation.

Working with first-base coach Tarrik Brock, Martin practiced sliding for the first time since tearing his labrum after sliding home at PNC Park last September. During the Tuesday drills Martin slid feet-first, then head-first with his right hand reaching out, and came out of the drill work feeling good.

And with that, Martin said, “everything is checked off the list, pretty much.

“It was really cool to be able to go out and do that. Luckily with this whole rehab process, I haven’t had many setbacks,” Martin added. “Just going along with that, I was kind of prepared for it to be smooth. Now that I’ve done it, it’s a good feeling.”

Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk called it a “monumental” step for Martin. With Grapefruit League games beginning Saturday, the 24-year-old outfielder can take the field and focus on trying to win a spot on the Opening Day roster. It wasn’t always clear that he’d have the chance to do that this early in Spring Training.

Martin was injured on Sept. 3, hours after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis, when he hustled home to score on a wild pitch only for Marlins pitcher to fall on top of him while trying to make a play. Initially, Martin was told he wouldn’t need surgery; about a month and a half later, Dr. Chris Ahmad performed the operation in New York.

“Going into it, I didn’t know if I was going to be ready for spring. More than likely, I wasn’t,” Martin said. “So I had my mind set that I wasn’t going to be ready, but it was definitely a challenge to get here -- and I’m happy that I’m here.”

Trainer’s room
• Right-hander Jameson Taillon, who will sit out this season following his second Tommy John surgery, played catch from 90 feet for the first time on Wednesday morning. Thus far, Taillon and the Pirates have been encouraged by his progress.

“Anytime Jamo throws, it’s a good day,” manager Derek Shelton said. “The one thing that we’ve tried to articulate to Jamo as much as possible is to take his time, because his health is extremely important to him and it’s extremely important to us as an organization.”

• Closer Keone Kela, who sat out Tuesday’s workout due to a viral infection, returned to Pirate City on Wednesday feeling “basically normal,” Tomczyk said. Kela played catch Wednesday and could return to full workouts Thursday.

• Infielder Erik González, coming back from Nov. 13 surgery on his left foot, could be brought along slowly this spring. Tomczyk said González has “no on-field restrictions,” but he’s still dealing with some issues when decelerating from full-speed running.

As a result, Tomczyk said, González “may or may not delay the beginning of his Spring Training games.” González has a chance to unseat Colin Moran as the starting third baseman or lock down a bench job as a versatile, slick-fielding infielder.

Around the horn
• Among the pitchers who threw live batting practice Wednesday were Chad Kuhl and Nick Burdi, who missed most (Burdi) or all (Kuhl) of last season after major surgery. The two right-handers, along with reliever Edgar Santana, are participating in Spring Training as healthy pitchers, but Shelton noted that it’s too soon to nail down a role for any of them given the time they missed and the injuries from which they’re returning.

“We’re talking about health right now,” Shelton said.

• Starter Chris Archer also threw live BP on Wednesday and looked “really good,” Shelton said. JT Brubaker, Richard Rodríguez, Dovydas Neverauskas, Clay Holmes, Sam Howard, Tom Koehler, Robbie Erlin, Blake Weiman and Hector Noesi also took the mound during Wednesday’s workout.

• Shelton said the Pirates have been finalizing their plans for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Twins, which means they could announce their pitching plan for that game as soon as Thursday.

• Shelton has already developed an understanding of -- and an appreciation for -- outfielder Bryan Reynolds’ low-key personality, as he showed when asked about Reynolds following Wednesday’s workout.

“Slow heartbeat, man. That’s what it is,” Shelton said. “I don’t think it ever skips up.

“He smiled twice today, which was huge.”