PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove will take a step forward in his rehabilitation on Thursday, when he's scheduled to throw a bullpen session. But the real test will come in the following days.Musgrove is on the disabled list with a muscle strain in his right shoulder. He has not
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove will take a step forward in his rehabilitation on Thursday, when he's scheduled to throw a bullpen session. But the real test will come in the following days.
Musgrove is on the disabled list with a muscle strain in his right shoulder. He has not pitched for the Bucs this season, but they hope he'll join their rotation when healthy. Musgrove has been playing catch at low intensity over the past week. Thursday's session will consist of 25-30 fastballs.
"The true judge will be when I pick up the pace and start throwing game-type bullpens," Musgrove said. "For now, it feels really good and I haven't had any issues. … Recovery's the most important thing. I've always felt fine going out and throwing; I just haven't been able to throw the days after I get in a game. These next couple days will be a good judge of how I'm feeling."
Musgrove will have to throw a few bullpen sessions, and possibly a simulated game or two, before moving on to a Minor League rehab assignment. Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said the Pirates have been monitoring Musgrove's flat-ground throwing sessions with a "pocket radar" to measure his effort level.
"To have a guy see what the velocity is [and] then put a number behind it, Joe is learning to condition the arm at a certain intensity, yet not put his arm health in jeopardy for recovery," Tomczyk said. "There's still some hurdles that he needs to overcome before he gets back into the mix."
Slumping Polanco sits
Right fielder Gregory Polanco was out of the lineup for Wednesday's series finale against the Rockies at PNC Park. Manager Clint Hurdle wanted to give Polanco the day off against a left-handed starter, Kyle Freeland, especially since Polanco started all but one of Pittsburgh's first 17 games. The Bucs are scheduled to face four straight right-handed starters in Philadelphia next series.
Polanco has also fallen into a short slump after a hot start, going 3-for-32 with 10 strikeouts over his past eight games. Hurdle said Polanco's swing -- short and compact the first week of the season -- has gotten a little longer recently, and that is likely the source of his struggles.
"Sometimes there's an urgency to hit, and his swing can get long. When it's short to the ball, that's when the power shows up, the hit-ability shows up," Hurdle said. "It goes back to counter-punching from his side and getting back to as short a stroke as a 6-foot-6 man can have. We've seen it. Right now there's a little bit too much length in it."
Around the horn
• Corey Dickerson was also out of the lineup on Wednesday. Hurdle said the Pirates will monitor his workload, taking into account the fact that he's never started more than 98 games in the outfield in a season.
"We need to be mindful of that going forward, not to expect him to be a guy that's going to go post up 145 times in the outfield," Hurdle said. "We want to work him into it and give him an occasional day [off] every now and then. I believe he can take on more than he's taken on in the past."
• Reliever A.J. Schugel (shoulder) was scheduled to make his second appearance with Class A Advanced Bradenton on Wednesday. Tomczyk said the right-hander's rehab has gone "positive" so far.
• Outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds (hamate bone surgery) is set for a seven- to nine-week recovery period, Tomczyk said.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.