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Chisenhall begins rehab assignment in Indy

Newman plays catch; Musgrove and Vazquez visit firefighters
@adamdberry
April 20, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- As the Pirates get healthier, their Triple-A lineup is loading up with talent. Lonnie Chisenhall began his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, starting in left field and going 0-for-3 at the plate. Indianapolis’ lineup also included rehabbing right fielder Gregory Polanco, rehabbing catcher Elias Diaz and

PITTSBURGH -- As the Pirates get healthier, their Triple-A lineup is loading up with talent.

Lonnie Chisenhall began his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, starting in left field and going 0-for-3 at the plate. Indianapolis’ lineup also included rehabbing right fielder Gregory Polanco, rehabbing catcher Elias Diaz and five of the organization’s top 15 prospects: shortstop Cole Tucker (No. 5), first baseman Will Craig (No. 15), third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (No. 2), center fielder Bryan Reynolds (No. 8) and second baseman Kevin Kramer (No. 6).

Chisenhall was healthy until the end of Spring Training, but he has not played in an official Major League or Minor League game since last July. He has been recovering from a fractured right index finger since being hit by a pitch during the Pirates’ exhibition series in Houston only days before Pittsburgh began the regular season in Cincinnati.

“He’s looking forward to getting going. Tonight’s somewhat his Opening Day,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s been a while.”

The Pirates signed Chisenhall in November to serve as their starting right fielder while Polanco finished his recovery from the left shoulder surgery he had last September, but it’s possible that Polanco could arrive in Pittsburgh before Chisenhall does. Polanco, who went 4-for-12 with two steals in his first three games with Indianapolis, is on a rehab assignment that must end by April 27.

Hurdle said the Pirates don’t have an estimated return date for Chisenhall. The 30-year-old will move around the diamond with Indianapolis, playing left and right field along with first and third base.

“We’re not putting a timeline on at-bats,” Hurdle said. “There’s no number. He needs to go get the at-bats he needs to get, and we’ll move him around the field. There will probably be a DH day in there as well.”

That versatility might be necessary, as the Pirates are already set in right field with Polanco and hot-hitting veteran Melky Cabrera. Josh Bell is holding down first base, and they’re balancing a pair of third basemen in Jung Ho Kang and Colin Moran. The Bucs are currently without starting left fielder Corey Dickerson, who has resumed throwing after being sidelined by a right posterior shoulder strain.

Chisenhall has hit well when he’s been on the field over the past two years, slashing .297/.368/.503 with 13 homers and 62 RBIs in 365 plate appearances.

Around the horn

• Infielder Kevin Newman, who is on the 10-day injured list with a laceration on his right middle finger, played catch on Friday afternoon at PNC Park. Newman is eligible to come off the injured list whenever the Pirates decide he is healthy enough to play.

• Right-hander Chad Kuhl, who is out for the season following Tommy John surgery, joined the Pirates at PNC Park on Friday and played catch on the field before the game. Kuhl and reliever Edgar Santana, who is also working his way back from Tommy John surgery, have been working out at the Pirate City complex in Bradenton, Fla. Kuhl will stay with the Pirates for the entire seven-game homestand.

• Pirates starter Joe Musgrove, closer Felipe Vazquez and team president Frank Coonelly traveled to the City of Pittsburgh Fire Bureaus on Friday to deliver lunch and visit with local firefighters. Saturday is First Responders Night at PNC Park, where the Pirates will recognize and celebrate local law enforcement, corrections officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders.

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