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Notes: Updates on Burdi, Feliz, Holmes

@adamdberry
August 12, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- Right-handed relievers Nick Burdi, Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes won’t pitch again this season, but the Pirates hope all three can avoid surgery after extensive medical reviews of their arm injuries. Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk met with the media via Zoom on Wednesday afternoon and

PITTSBURGH -- Right-handed relievers Nick Burdi, Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes won’t pitch again this season, but the Pirates hope all three can avoid surgery after extensive medical reviews of their arm injuries.

Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk met with the media via Zoom on Wednesday afternoon and provided the following updates.

• Burdi, who was placed on the 45-day injured list on Aug. 5, was told that surgery is not necessary at this time. That’s a relief for the right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and a procedure to relieve the symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome last year, but he is still facing a long road back from what Tomczyk called a “significant strain to a forearm muscle” that is also causing some nerve inflammation.

Tomczyk said Burdi reported that he felt pain in his elbow only when he was throwing. Some of these symptoms are remnants of Burdi’s bout with neurogenic TOS, Tomczyk added, which is common given how long it can take for nerves to fully heal.

Burdi will undergo a “biologic injection” akin to a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection, Tomczyk said, and he will not throw for 10 to 12 weeks. In about three months, Burdi will repeat his recent round of testing to determine what comes next.

“I think anytime you can avoid surgery is a good thing,” Tomczyk said. “I don’t want to speak for Nick, but I’m sure it’s quite frustrating that he continues to experience any type of arm discomfort.”

• Feliz, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on Aug. 2 and transferred to the 45-day IL the following day, was diagnosed with a right elbow sprain. After receiving a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Feliz underwent a PRP injection and will not throw for six to eight weeks.

• Holmes, who was transferred to the 45-day IL on Tuesday, also received a PRP injection after being diagnosed with a right elbow sprain. He will be reevaluated after not throwing for four to six weeks.

Trainer’s room
• Reliever Kyle Crick (right shoulder/lat muscle strain) threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and “came out of that very well,” Tomczyk said. If all goes well, the next step for Crick will be facing hitters early next week.

• Starter Joe Musgrove has been dealing with right triceps inflammation “on and off probably since early Spring Training 2.0,” Tomczyk said, and the injury landed him on the 10-day IL on Tuesday. The Pirates do not expect he will be sidelined for long, however.

“We all felt it was in Joe’s best interest, both short and long term, to give it a little bit of further pause to make sure the inflammation is completely out of the elbow region before he resumes throwing,” Tomczyk said. “We anticipate and project him to play catch over the weekend and build up from there.”

• Starter Mitch Keller (left oblique strain) will play catch this weekend. The Pirates will determine his next step based on how he responds to throwing for the first time.

• Infielder Phillip Evans, who is out for the year following a collision during Saturday’s game, has seen his concussion symptoms subside in recent days, Tomczyk said. Doctors continue to believe surgery will not be necessary to repair Evans’ broken jaw.

• Starter Jameson Taillon, who won’t pitch until 2021 following Tommy John surgery in August 2019, is throwing two bullpen sessions per week and coming along well, Tomczyk said.

“I know this is a broken record, but the amount of professionalism that this man has shown during his rehab, the type of human being that he is, the teammate, the solid citizen in the community, it’s just refreshing in these times and in this world to work with someone like Jameson,” Tomczyk said.

• Tomczyk said starter Chris Archer, who is out for the season following surgery for neurogenic TOS, is “working his tail off” as he regains strength and range of motion while recovering at home in California.

• Infielder Kevin Kramer is rehabbing from season-ending hip surgery at his home in Arizona.

Piggyback plan on pause
Without Musgrove available, Pirates used the last three days off to shuffle their rotation heading into their upcoming four-game series. Right-hander Trevor Williams will start the series opener on Thursday followed by right-hander Chad Kuhl on Friday, left-hander Steven Brault on Saturday and veteran lefty Derek Holland on Sunday.

Yes, that means the Pirates are at least temporarily shelving their piggyback plan for Kuhl and Brault. They will occupy separate spots in the rotation for this series, although Shelton wouldn’t say they have decided to permanently abandon the tandem-starter arrangement.

“We’ve got a chance to reevaluate it and look where we’re at, but with Joe coming out, it just seemed like a logical decision,” manager Derek Shelton said.

Part of the reason the Pirates pushed Holland back to Sunday is to give him time to recover from his 112-pitch start on Saturday. Right-hander JT Brubaker will be available out of the bullpen in Cincinnati and could be used as a multi-inning reliever behind either Kuhl or Brault.

The Pirates don’t need to return with a five-man rotation, as they have an off-day scheduled for Monday. Shelton said Brubaker “could bounce back into a starting role if he has to.”

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