You can talk about the sheer volume of Pirates players who landed on the injured list this year — more than 25 in all. That's an entire gameday roster.
You can talk about the key figures who have missed significant time — Jameson Taillon with a strained right flexor tendon, Francisco Cervelli with concussions, Trevor Williams with an abdominal strain. The list goes on.
But behind the competitive element of it all sits another issue. While the athletic trainers focus on getting players healthy and back into game action, they're still dealing with human beings. And missing time on the field means a player is unable to help his teammates and unable to fulfill his passion for playing the game of baseball. It's a delicate balance in keeping them emotionally healthy while also making sure they're receiving the physical treatment they need.
Wednesday at PNC Park before the Pirates' series finale against the Brewers, I asked Pirates head athletic trainer and director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk how he walks that line:
Now, for your regularly scheduled injury details:
• Taillon: "We're in the process of setting up surgery with Dr. Altchek early next week," Tomczyk said. "Once that is finalized, once he has the surgery, we will make sure to make the announcement in an appropriate time to get all the accurate information out to everybody, notably Jameson."
• Francisco Cervelli "continues to make progress in his catching progression." He's caught two sim games from Keone Kela and is "symptom free" from the concussion that landed him on the injured list on May 25. Tomczyk calls it "encouraging."
How close to a return is Cervelli? That's up in the air. Tomczyk calls the situation "fluid." No real answers to be found just yet.
• Gregory Polanco is working with the Florida group in Bradenton and "continues to make progress with his range of motion" and has resumed all baseball activities.
• Nick Burdi continues his rehab in Florida. Tomczyk had "no real update or progress." He is not throwing and not expected to throw any time soon.
• Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana continue their mound progression as they return from Tommy John surgery.
"It's been a long journey for them," Tomczyk said, "You'll actually see Chad come up the next homestand after the team returns from the Little League World Series game [Aug. 18 in Williamsport, Pa.]. He'll come up for a homestand just to see the guys and be re-engaged with the clubhouse, and hopefully gear up for his 2020 season. Same thing with Santana, however he and his wife had a child in June, so he's going to stay in Florida with the family."
• Clay Holmes is scheduled for his second rehab outing tomorrow [Thursday] with the Altoona Curve. He pitched two innings Monday, allowing four hits and three earned runs.
• No change in status for right-handed starting pitcher JT Brubaker. The 22nd-ranked Pirates prospect, according to Baseball America, began the season in Indianapolis as a legitimate depth option for the Pirates' rotation in 2019, but the 25-year-old was shut down after four starts with forearm tightness then had his rehab assignment shut down in July with elbow inflammation.
• No update available on everyone's favorite Pirate, Lonnie Chisenhall.
• Braeden Ogle, 22, a left-handed reliever for the High-A Bradenton Marauders who is ranked as the Pirates' 28th-best prospect in Baseball America's midseason rankings, had "a little setback with his arm/shoulder." He's currently in a rehab group in Bradenton and out of game activity.
• Tom Koehler, signed as a minor-league free agent prior to the season, began a minor-league rehab assignment with the Pirates' rookie-level GCL Pirates last night, yielding 2 runs and 2 hits in 2/3 of an inning. It was his first game action since pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. The Pirates hold a club option for him in 2020.
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