Luis Heredia has not thrown a pitch off a mound since March 3rd. I first noticed that Heredia was out of action for a long period of time last week, when I was trying to find out when he would be throwing his next bullpen session so that I could get video of him throwing. I unsuccessfully tried getting information on when the next bullpen would be, then looked back over my notes to see that he hadn’t thrown since a bullpen session on March 3rd.
After following up on this issue, there’s no clear answer to why Heredia is out. He is listed in red on the roster sheets, but not with the rehab group, meaning he is limited, but able to play. I asked Heredia and Pirates’ Farm Director Larry Broadway if he was injured, and if there were any lingering issues from his shoulder injury last year. Both said no.
Broadway said that Heredia has been out in order to get in better shape.
“He’s just getting in better shape,” Broadway said. “He’s getting ready to compete, and wasn’t in a good enough spot yet. We wanted to take him out. He’s still throwing and everything, but we wanted to take an opportunity to get him in better shape before we started going on to the season.”
That’s a concern if you remember that he had similar issues two years ago. He was slated for West Virginia to start the 2013 season, but was shut down and held back in extended Spring Training after showing up to camp weighing 280 pounds. Heredia lost 40 pounds heading into the 2014 season, and looks to be in good shape this year. He downplayed the time off and the connection to the issue two years ago.
“I’ll be ready for the start of the season,” Heredia said. “It’s no big deal like two years ago.”
Broadway wouldn’t say when Heredia will throw off the mound again. Heredia said he thought he had one more week of workouts before he started back up. Both have said that he is still throwing, indicating his long toss program.
At this point it seems unlikely that Heredia will be ready for the start of the season. The minor league games started today, and to give an example of where pitchers are currently with their innings, Steven Brault and Jason Creasy both pitched two innings today. Brault is slated to start the year in Bradenton, with Creasy going to Altoona.
Brault threw his first bullpen session on March 4th, and his second on March 7th. He threw a one inning live batting practice on March 10th, and a two inning live batting practice on the 13th. He threw another bullpen session on the 15th, before throwing his two innings today.
Creasy had a similar progression. He threw a bullpen on March 3rd, and one more bullpen before throwing a live batting practice on the 9th. He went two innings in a live batting practice on March 12th. After a bullpen session on the 14th, he went two innings today.
Both pitchers had about two weeks from the time of their first bullpen session, to the time they threw their first live game. From here, pitchers usually build up their innings count in each start — with one start at three innings, one at four innings, and two at five innings — before they are ready for the season.
Heredia hasn’t thrown a bullpen since March 3rd. If he started up again tomorrow, and went on the same schedule that Brault and Creasy went on (which is a standard schedule for all starters), then he would be ready to pitch in a live game around the start of April. From there, he would have about four more starts, which would likely delay his 2015 debut until the end of April.
This is only speculation, as I don’t know what the plan is for Heredia. What I do know is that he hasn’t thrown off the mound since March 3rd, both he and Broadway say he’s not injured, and both say he needs to get in shape, with no real timetable given on when he will return to the mound.