WASHINGTON, D.C. — This is a “big week” for Josh Harrison, as the Pirates’s second baseman returns from his fractured fifth metacarpal.
Expected to miss about another two to three weeks, Harrison has re-engaged with baseball activities with both feet, participating in running drills, throwing, taking infield practice, and he’s even gone as far as to stand in the batter’s box during pitchers’ bullpen sessions to track pitches.
About the only thing that’s keeping Harrison on the shelf right now is his inability to grip and swing the bat.
“This week is a big week for him as he continues to progress in his gripping,” Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said via teleconference on Wednesday. “He’s getting there, and then after that, Josh will need to swing with velocity, swing from coaches’ pitch. There’s some steps that he still needs to take, but he continues to push our staff to push through this injury.”
Harrison said that he does intend to wear a new protective device on his hand, but he’s waiting until he can get the bat in his hands before he starts to try out his options on that front.
READY TO ROLL
A pair of right-handed relievers have essentially completed their injury rehab at Triple-A Indianapolis. A.J. Schugel (shoulder strain) pitched on back-to-back days on Sunday and Monday, typically the final hurdle before a relief pitcher returns to the majors. Before he does that, the Pirates are going to let him get some organic experience last part of the Indianapolis bullpen.
“As part of the rehab, we’d like him to be used out of the Indianapolis bullpen per how the manager sees fit,” Tomczyk said.
Schugel has a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings with the Indians, with seven strikeouts and two walks. He’s pitched five straight scoreless innings after giving up two runs in his first 2.2. Schugel started his rehab on April 12, meaning the Pirates only have another 10 days before they have to put him back on the 25-man roster.
Also in the Indianapolis bullpen, Bo Schultz (UCL surgery) has also been given a clean bill of health. He’s made two appearances with the Indians, pitching a scoreless inning on April 18, but allowing three runs on two hits in 0.2 IP on Monday. Schultz is on a minor-league contract, so there is no restriction on the amount of time he can stay with Indianapolis.
Left-handed reliever Enny Romero (shoulder impingement) will be shut down for an indefinite period of time after he revealed to the team he’d been nursing an injury when the club attempted to designate him for assignment over the weekend.
“He had some posterior shoulder inflammation and some internal impingement that was not going to allow him to continue to perform,” Tomczyk said.
Romero is still with the team and will be shut down for a period of rest before resuming with range-of-motion and arm strengthening activities, long toss and then game activity.