The Pirates moved reliever Michael Feliz to the 10-day injured list ahead of Friday’s series opener in Milwaukee and recalled Sean Poppen to the active roster.
Feliz was sent to the injured list due to a cracked nail on his right middle finger, which is on his pitching hand. Pirates manager Derek Shelton said the nail was a recurring issue for Feliz in the past week.
“It has affected him the last two times out, and we just got to the point where we needed to give it some rest because he continued to reaggravate it,” Shelton said.
In the Pirates’ road stretch to open the season, Feliz allowed three runs (two earned) in 2 2/3 innings, but he rebounded at home to post three scoreless appearances against the Cubs and the Padres.
Feliz did not see much action in 2020 as he was shut down on Aug. 2 with right forearm discomfort after throwing only 1 2/3 innings. However, Feliz’s 58 games in 2019 trailed only Richard Rodríguez (72) and Francisco Liriano (69).
The Pirates claimed Poppen, who is also a righty reliever, off waivers from the Twins on Oct. 1. The Virginia Beach, Va., native allowed four runs in 7 2/3 innings last season for Minnesota while striking out 10. In Spring Training, Poppen gave up 10 runs (nine earned) in 10 2/3 innings, working between one and two innings at a time.
“[He] has the ability to put the ball on the ground. That's important for us,” Shelton said. “And if we are going to lengthen out or use him for a longer period of time, being able to minimize pitches in innings is as important."
Poppen has Major League experience in long relief; his debut in 2019 was a four-inning relief appearance against the Red Sox. In the Minors, the 27-year-old started in 72 of 83 appearances between 2016-19.
Poppen was on the Pirates’ taxi squad ahead of the move.
Hayes takes big step
Shelton said that third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who is on the 10-day injured list with left wrist inflammation, hit off a live arm Friday in the cage at American Family Field.
This marks the first time Hayes has advanced beyond soft-toss reps with the bat. The Pirates are treating his potential activation from the injured list as a day-to-day matter.
“The fact that we have the ability to take him off [the IL] at any point is positive for us,” Shelton said. “It’s just that we’ve got to see how he feels.”
Phillip Evans started at third base Friday and batted in the second spot, where Hayes traditionally hits. Evans has produced while stepping in consistently for Hayes, slashing .342/.444/.632 with two doubles and three homers in 11 games, while committing one error in 51 innings at the hot corner.
“Last year, before he got hurt, he had really consistent at-bats, and he's just carried on and continued,” Shelton said of Evans earlier this week.
Milwaukee will host Pittsburgh once again on Saturday, when Trevor Cahill squares off with Brett Anderson at American Family Field. The duo were former teammates in Oakland, and they made their Major League debuts for the A’s three days apart (April 7, 2009, for Cahill, and April 10 for Anderson). First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. ET, and the action will be live on AT&T SportsNet and MLB.TV.