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Musgrove easing into throwing program

Bucs righty done with rehab, but won't rush into full-intensity bullpens
February 13, 2019

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Joe Musgrove had abdominal surgery in October, the Pirates stated that the right-hander would be "on or close to a regular schedule" for Spring Training. That forecast turned out to be true as Pittsburgh's pitchers and catchers officially began their spring workouts on Wednesday.Musgrove isn't yet

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Joe Musgrove had abdominal surgery in October, the Pirates stated that the right-hander would be "on or close to a regular schedule" for Spring Training. That forecast turned out to be true as Pittsburgh's pitchers and catchers officially began their spring workouts on Wednesday.
Musgrove isn't yet throwing full-intensity bullpen sessions after undergoing surgery in mid-October to repair his abdominal wall and heal a stress reaction on the front of his pelvic bone, but he is done rehabbing. He'll work out, perform drills and throw with the rest of Pittsburgh's pitchers at Pirate City.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
General manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates will be conservative with their starting pitchers' workloads this spring, and that might be particularly important for Musgrove. He has thrown off a mound, but he's easing into the typical bullpen progression.
"I feel like we're in a good spot. It's just going to be a day-by-day thing," Musgrove said. "I haven't gotten off the mound and really fired balls yet. I've thrown a couple off the mound and felt good for the time being, but I'm trying to follow a certain program with a certain percentage of the effort level that I'm putting into each 'pen and just kind of gradually progressing.
"Hopefully we won't have any setbacks as we're moving along, but I'm trying to prevent [myself] from going out there and telling myself, 'Let's test it today and see where we're at,' then having a setback. I've had good days. I've had bad days. But with where we're at right now and the time we have allotted for the next month and a half or so, I feel like we should be right on track."
The right-hander made only 19 starts in his first year with the Pirates. His season began late due to a shoulder strain and ended early due to his abdominal injuries. The 26-year-old said he learned from his abbreviated return to the rotation last season.
"I've always had a lot of physical preparation to get me ready, and a lot of that's how my mind is geared and how I work. A lot of my mental preparation comes through physical work and pushing myself to a level of discomfort at times," Musgrove said. "Throughout the season, I've got to modify what I'm doing. A lot of times, the stuff I've done has made me successful and kept me sharp throughout the course of the year. But the issues I've had with health and the ability to maintain throughout the whole year, it's been an issue for me.
"I can still get that kind of work in in the offseason and throughout Spring Training, but as the season comes, I might have to modify my lifting or my running or stuff to try to conserve a little bit and maintain more of a healthy lifespan throughout the season."
Around the horn
• Rain swept through the area on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, forcing pitchers and catchers to hold their first official workout inside the Pirate City complex. Pitchers threw their scheduled bullpen sessions off the mounds in the batting cage.
"We got the audible early. Plan A, we moved that aside and went to Plan B," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We still were able to get some work done."
All 40 pitchers and catchers expected to be in camp reported in time for Wednesday's workout. They were joined by a large group of position players, who aren't required to report until this weekend. Gregory Polanco, Jung Ho Kang, Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman and Lonnie Chisenhall have already been at Pirate City. A handful of others -- including Josh Bell, Adam Frazier, José Osuna, Cole Tucker and Patrick Kivlehan -- reported on Wednesday morning.
• Newman and Erik González will compete for the starting shortstop job this spring. One of them will claim the job, while the other could crack the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder, Huntington said. Newman and Gonzalez both have experience at second base, so either could back up Frazier at that position.

• Recently signed veterans Francisco Liriano and Melky Cabrera, both of whom agreed to Minor League deals, will have a "legitimate opportunity" to make the Opening Day roster, Huntington said. Liriano would fit in the bullpen as a lefty reliever, while Cabrera could be a fourth outfield option behind Starling Marte, Dickerson and Chisenhall.
• The Pirates are "cautiously optimistic" about the rehabbing Polanco's progress, Huntington said. Polanco is in the early stages of his throwing program, the biggest test for his surgically repaired left shoulder. The right fielder is "uninhibited" when it comes to swinging the bat, Huntington added.

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