For Pirates from SD, road trip is homecoming

Injury updates on Dickerson, Kela, Taillon and Burdi; Holmes to Indy

May 15th, 2019

PHOENIX -- This three-game series at Chase Field was a homecoming of sorts for a handful of Pirates, highlighted by ’s hometown home run in the Bucs’ 6-2 win over the D-backs on Tuesday night.

This weekend figures to be just as special for the Pirates’ contingent of San Diego natives as they play four games against the Padres at Petco Park after dropping the series finale against the D-backs on Wednesday, 11-1. The series will begin on Thursday night with , a local product and longtime Padres fan, on the mound for Pittsburgh. It will end with , another San Diego native, starting against the Padres.

Infielder , who is from Poway, Calif., will play in the ballpark where he attended games growing up. And lefty , another San Diego native and childhood fan of the Padres, could take the mound at some point.

With the four of them in town, don’t be surprised if there’s visible and vocal support for the Pirates in the Padres’ home park.

“When I was younger going to Padre games, I remember just thinking the guy out there at shortstop and the guys on the team were the coolest guys in the world. They were superheroes,” said Newman, who will be making his first trip to Petco Park as a Major Leaguer. “Then, when I got called up and made my debut, it was kind of cool to realize I’m in that spot. I’m on a Major League Baseball field. I’ve been thinking about it since then.”

Williams learned a lot about how to channel his energy when he allowed four runs over 4 2/3 innings in his Petco Park debut last summer. The fact that he’s already been there and done that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for Thursday night, however.

“Last year, I didn’t know what to expect mentally -- how I was going to react. But I think I’m in a good spot now to know what to expect and how to control my emotions,” Williams said. “It’s going to be cool. It’s always going to be special there. If I pitch there 20 times in my career or if I only pitch two times, it’s always going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”

Newman got a taste of the homecoming experience in Phoenix, as he attended the University of Arizona and now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz. He and Williams have run on parallel paths for much of their careers. They played at rival high schools -- Newman at Poway High, Williams at Rancho Bernardo High -- then rival colleges, as Williams pitched for Arizona State University.

Now, they are teammates heading home to share a dream come true.

“It’ll be a fun time, for sure,” Newman said.

Injury updates

• Left fielder Corey Dickerson (right posterior shoulder strain) is hitting and playing catch without restrictions, according to Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk. Dickerson should begin throwing from 90-plus feet this weekend. The Bucs are confident that Dickerson is moving in the right direction after previously canceling his scheduled rehab assignment. “The appropriate rest and the appropriate exercises, the appropriate form and mechanics, everything all combined, he’s in a much better spot than he was prior to the thought of having him start his rehab assignment,” Tomczyk said.

• Reliever Keone Kela (right shoulder inflammation) is playing catch on flat ground. He could soon throw off the mound, Tomczyk said, at which point the Pirates can begin plotting his return to the Majors.

• Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon (right elbow flexor tendon strain) remains shut down from throwing, as planned. He is working on his conditioning and doing range-of-motion exercises.

• Reliever Nick Burdi (right biceps nerve injury) is improving “slowly but surely” while rehabbing in Bradenton, Fla., Tomczyk said, reiterating that a nerve injury such as his will take time to heal.

Around the horn

• To make room for the return of on Wednesday, the Pirates optioned right-hander Clay Holmes to Triple-A Indianapolis.

• Pittsburgh has not yet named a starter for Saturday’s game at Petco Park. The most likely candidates are Brault and . Kingham was listed among the relievers on the Bucs’ lineup card Wednesday afternoon while Brault was grouped with the starters.

• Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall (strained calf) went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter for Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. He began his rehab assignment on Tuesday night, when he played seven innings in right field.

• Left-hander Tyler Lyons, who cleared waivers on Monday, reported to Indianapolis and joined the Triple-A roster on Wednesday.