PITTSBURGH -- When Phillip Evans was ruled out for the season following a collision with right fielder Gregory Polanco, the Pirates were initially optimistic that he would be able to avoid surgery.
But Evans will need surgery to repair his broken jaw, Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk revealed on Wednesday. Evans met with a surgeon on Tuesday for a routine follow-up appointment, Tomczyk said, and they learned that Evans’ fracture had “become a little bit more displaced,” thus requiring a wire to help the bone heal properly.
Tomczyk said Evans is expected to make a full recovery, and there’s no question he’ll be ready for Spring Training next year. He could even be healthy in time to participate in winter ball this offseason, if he chooses to play to make up for the time he’ll miss this season.
“The most important thing here with Phil here is the long-term prognosis is very good,” Tomczyk said. “The doctors continue to expect a full recovery.”
Evans, a 27-year-old rookie who was playing his way into a bigger role with Pittsburgh, was slashing .359/.444/.487 with a homer and nine RBIs before sustaining season-ending injuries in an Aug. 8 collision while chasing a fly ball in foul territory.
• Reliever Kyle Crick (right shoulder/lat muscle strain) faced hitters in live batting practice on Tuesday, Tomczyk said, and felt good coming out of that throwing session. Crick is scheduled to throw live BP again in the coming days.
• Starter Joe Musgrove (right triceps inflammation) is scheduled to throw off the mound for the first time later this week.
• Starter Mitch Keller (left oblique strain) is playing catch on flat ground and should throw off the mound “early-to-mid-next week,” Tomczyk said.
• Reliever Yacksel Ríos (right shoulder inflammation) first reported tightness and soreness in his throwing shoulder after a bullpen session in Cincinnati on Sunday. Tomczyk said Ríos will be shut down from throwing, allowing the inflammation to subside, before he is built back up again.
• Right-hander James Marvel, part of the Pirates’ player pool at their alternate training site, is working his way back from a right forearm strain. Tomczyk estimated Marvel first reported the injury “several weeks ago,” but he is now scheduled to get back on the mound within the next five days.
• Catcher Christian Kelley, who is also part of the group at the satellite camp in Altoona, Pa., is being evaluated by the Pirates' doctors due to a left wrist injury, Tomczyk said.
• Relievers Nick Burdi, Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes were all sent home after being placed on the 45-day injured list, Tomczyk said. They will continue their rehabilitation programs at home.
Around the horn
• JT Riddle, who had made only three appearances since coming off the 10-day injured list on Aug. 5, started in center field in Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Indians, going 0-for-3. José Osuna, who had not played since Aug. 3, started at third base and went 1-for-3.
“I think with Riddle and Osuna getting on the field, they were supposed to play the third day in Cincinnati,” manager Derek Shelton said before the game. “After this next off-day, we’re getting ready to play 19 games in 17 days. Everybody is going to need to be sharp. I’m just trying to make sure we get guys on the field to stay sharp. Just thought today would be a good day to get both of those guys out there.”
• Asked why right fielder Gregory Polanco continues to receive regular playing time despite his .070/.163/.233 slash line, Shelton pointed to the quality of contact Polanco has made when he hits the ball. Polanco’s average exit velocity ranks in the Majors’ 98th percentile, but he’s also striking out in nearly half of his plate appearances.
“If you look at balls that have been hit hard in a game, he’s hitting the ball hard. We just have to get some of ‘em to fall,” Shelton said. “We have to get him some consistent at-bats. There will be days that he has off for his body and other factors. But we have to get him going, and hopefully some of these balls will start to fall.”
• In his first five games of the season, Kevin Newman went 1-for-20 with a single. In 12 games between Aug. 1 and Wednesday, Newman went 18-for-49 (.367) with a homer, three doubles, five RBIs, one walk and only four strikeouts. Shelton said we’re seeing Newman “get into his rhythm,” in part because he’s finding himself in better counts and hitting the ball harder.
“Nothing’s changed, really. Just some more balls falling. Same approach, same swing,” Newman said Tuesday night. “I think a lot of guys started off slow this year. It was a weird year. … Thankfully, some balls have been finding grass lately. Just looking to build on it.”
• Left-hander Derek Holland worked two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss, but he will rejoin the rotation on Saturday during the Pirates’ series against the Brewers. Before the series opener, Holland had not pitched since throwing 112 pitches on Aug. 8.
Right-hander Chad Kuhl will start Friday’s series opener, with JT Brubaker slated to start Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.