Notes: Hayes gets 'positive news'; Brault

April 28th, 2021

PITTSBURGH -- underwent evaluations on Friday, and according to Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk, no new issues cropped up with the third baseman’s left wrist.

“Very positive news on the outcome of the exam and subsequent diagnostics,” Tomczyk said. “There were no new findings, so very, very encouraging news on Ke'Bryan.”

Hayes has been on the 10-day injured list since he took an awkward swing on April 3 against Jake Arrieta that led to a hyperextension and subsequent inflammation of the area. The Pirates hoped Hayes would return in the past week, but after he experienced discomfort in a round of batting practice on Thursday in Detroit, the club opted to have him undergo evaluations and reassess his timetable.

Hayes has not returned to swinging the bat yet, but he will catch and field balls in the coming days to see how he responds to those stresses.

“We are assessing what he can and can't do, but, yes, there will be a similar process [as the last build-up],” Tomczyk said. “We're not going to do the exact same things that we did before, but there will be some gradual progression into full baseball activities.

“We're going to take this day to day. We're going to see how it responds to the workload that the performance and medical team, coaching staff throw at him.”

Hayes, ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, was a preseason favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Though a quick return would help him build on that pedigree and contribute to a club that inched above .500 on Tuesday, Tomczyk said the Pirates want to not just restore Hayes’ wrist to good health, but also want him to “get the confidence back.”

More injury updates

• Steven Brault, who is on the 60-day injured list with left arm discomfort (latissimus muscle), is initiating a strengthening program. Tomczyk said on March 24 that Brault would pause throwing for “approximately one month.”

“Once you initiate the strengthening, that, to us, indicates we're getting close,” Tomczyk said. “So we'll have a short period of time with the strength and conditioning exercises, then we'll advance to some of what we call plyometric-type throwing-like activities.

“Once that is completed, and the arm responds well to that, then we'll put a baseball in his hand, and it's off to the races after that.”

• Chad Kuhl, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday and placed on the injured list retroactive to April 19, has begun playing catch in his rehab from a bout of right shoulder discomfort. Tomczyk said he hopes to have Kuhl progress to throwing from 120 feet in the coming days.

“We'll see how the arm responds to the workload of 120 [feet],” Tomczyk said. “The next steps are to throw a side and then live BP. So that's kind of a robust global timeframe. But to put specific dates on it, we're not there yet.”

• Michael Feliz, who is on the 10-day injured list with a cracked fingernail on his right hand, threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, and Tomczyk said the “early indication is that everything went well.”

Fowler clears

Like Anthony Alford earlier in the week, Dustin Fowler cleared waivers and was assigned to the Pirates’ alternate training site on Wednesday.

Though Fowler produced five hits to Alford’s two in the center-field battle earlier this season, the former Top 100 Prospect struck out 20 times in 41 at-bats. However, when Fowler squared up balls, they often had some pop. Seven of the 22 balls he put in play were “hard hit,” meaning they had an exit velocity of 95 mph or greater.

“I think there is some definite potential,” manager Derek Shelton said. “He did hit some balls hard. I definitely think there’s some things fundamentally that we’ve outlined that we can attack and we’ll continue to work on with him once he goes to the alt site.”