BRADENTON, Fl. – The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that Austin Meadows suffered a right eye injury yesterday during workouts. The initial tests revealed an orbital fracture, but due to swelling around the eye, he will need to be re-evaluated early next week in Pittsburgh.
Meadows was hurt after getting hit in the face playing catch. There is a lot of swelling right now, which is delaying further evaluation. Pirates’ Head Athletic Trainer Todd Tomczyk said that it’s too early for a timeline for his return, and that going off previous similar injuries (i.e. A.J. Burnett) wouldn’t necessarily be accurate.
“Every injury is its own identity,” Tomczyk said. “Everybody is an individual, and we’re still examining and evaluating.”
This is not good news for Meadows in the short-term, and the hope is that he recovers completely. In the long-term, this doesn’t really have any impact if he does have a full recovery. He probably would have spent the entire year in Altoona this year, and with the outfield currently in Pittsburgh, there is no rush to get him to the majors any time soon. We’ll have more on this injury next week after Meadows is evaluated.
Kingham Throws Off the Mound For First Time
Nick Kingham threw off the mound yesterday for the first time since having Tommy John surgery. It wasn’t a real bullpen session, as he was throwing at about 75% effort and the catcher was in front of the plate, making them about 50 foot fastballs. Kingham equated it to flat ground routines off the mound, just to get re-adjusted.
“Light and easy fastball, just to get the feel of pitching off the slope again,” Kingham said.
Kingham threw 15 pitches in total, all fastballs. Today he said he felt good.
“Feel good today,” Kingham said. “Feel like it was a normal day. We’ll see how it feels two months from now when I’m throwing real bullpens and everything, but as of right now, everything feels good.”
The current plan is for him to throw two bullpens a week, always on Tuesday and Friday. He said he will take this progression for at least six weeks, and then will start to build up to a normal five day schedule. That might seem like a lot, but it’s similar to what Jameson Taillon did last year. He started throwing two bullpens a week on January 20th, and didn’t face hitters for the first time until March 13th.
Other Injury Updates
**Jung-ho Kang’s goal this week is to “get on the dirt in his cleats,” according to Tomczyk. He won’t be running the bases yet, and will still remain linear. Usually the bases are the last thing needed before returning to games, but this is a good step.
**Jesse Biddle started throwing flat grounds this week. That’s the first step back from Tommy John, usually following the four month period of no throwing at all. Biddle still has a long way to go until he throws off the mound and then returns to a game. By comparison, Nick Kingham started throwing off flat ground in late September, and didn’t throw off the mound until yesterday. So it could be a little over five months until Biddle is throwing off the mound, which would put that around September under the same timeline as Kingham.
**Cory Luebke threw a batting practice sim game. That puts him a lot closer to returning to games, although at this point he’s still a few weeks behind the other relievers. If the Pirates carry two lefties, it would be highly unlikely that Luebke would have a shot for the second lefty spot out of camp.
**Robert Zarate played catch on flat ground today. It seems unlikely that he’d get into games during Spring Training at this point, especially when you consider that Luebke isn’t in games yet and was throwing off flat ground in late-February.
**Antoan Richardson is scheduled to run the bases tomorrow.