PITTSBURGH — Shortstop Jordy Mercer is not in the Pirates starting lineup on Wednesday, but he is available off the bench after injuring his right pinky finger diving back to first base on Monday.
“It’s still a little bit black and blue, but it’s way better than it was (Wednesday),” Mercer said. “(Wednesday), I woke up and was like, ‘Ahhh!’ Way better. I took some swings in the cage, which is good news. It’s all about getting the swelling down and gripping the bat.”
Mercer said that the injury hasn’t affected his ability to play the field at all. Most of the issue is regarding batting, especially on a cold day. The team has added some extra padding to Mercer’s batting glove to attempt to get him ready to go.
Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk provided updates on the three Pirates pitchers that were held back in minor league camp due to injury.
Rule 5 pick Nick Burdi has started throwing off a slope in his return to pitching from Tommy John surgery. Burdi remains in minor-league camp and his next step will be throwing full bullpen sessions off the mound with his fastball and changeup only.
Right-handed reliever Bo Schultz has continued to pitch in games in minor league camp since the Pirates went north. Schultz, who is just about one year removed from Tommy John surgery, will have to be on an active roster in order to continue his progression because he’s playing under a minor-league contract.
That could create something of a roster crunch for whatever team he’s assigned to, so you could see Schultz shipped back and forth from High-A Bradenton to the Gulf Coast League on days he’s available and not available to pitch in order to let the Marauders play with a full bullpen on most nights. That’s one of the main reasons the 32-year old Schultz won’t go to Indianapolis until he’s closer to being ready to pitch on a regular basis.
“In Bo’s case, he has to be part of a roster and that can hinder that roster,” Tomczyk said. “We do a lot of finagling with Larry Broadway and Kyle Stark.”
Tomczyk added that Schultz has continued to make impressive progress in his return and credited Schultz’s experience and ability to monitor his body as reasons for his quick recovery.
Right-handed reliever A.J. Schugel has thrown two bullpen sessions in minor league camp and responded well. His next step is throwing a live batting practice. Schugel is on the 40-man roster and the 10-day disabled list. He’s eligible to be reinstated as soon as Thursday, but appears to be a good bit from being ready to return.
Tomczyk did not have an update on right-handed starter Joe Musgrove. Musgrove is still resting his right shoulder strain.