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Hurdle opens up on ‘challenging’ 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Way, way back in May, on the first Pirates road series I ever covered, I asked Clint Hurdle a question. The team was playing .500 ball and had sent player after player — including key pieces in Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams — to the IL.

So, Mr. Hurdle, is this your most challenging season as a manager?

That question aged like a pound of ground chuck in the trunk of a car on a hot summer day. Hurdle answered it respectfully, but man, oh man, how far this team has fallen since that day in Cincinnati.

More injuries. More losing — way more losing. Internal suspensions. Teammates fighting in the clubhouse.

May was a small-bite appetizer for the entrée of chaos we'd soon be fed.

So of course, I had to run that question back with Hurdle before the team's Game 3 vs. the Giants here at Oracle Park. He literally laughed as I presented it.

Yeah, some stuff has happened since May, and Hurdle dished on it in full, almost four minutes in all:

"I don't have an answer on if it's the most [challenging]," Hurdle said. "It has been pretty consistent, though, with the challenges. And I am still a firm believer in the fact that, if you've paid attention to what's going on, you have every opportunity to maximize these challenges and turn them into good, into positives.

"That 2012 club went 17-51 out of the gate. That same, pretty much core group returned in 2013 to bust some new ground in a lot of different areas. We've talked about that in here. What are we learning as we've been losing? Also, what are we learning as we've been winning?"

• Felipe Vazquez once again declined to comment on his incident with Kyle Crick. Reporters, myself included, approached Vazquez at his locker for a moment of his time before Game 3, and he shut it down, saying, "I'm not going to talk about it."

• If Joe Musgrove's toe injury is healed and good to go, he'll start Game 4 Thursday here against the Giants. If not, it'll be Alex McRae on the mound. I asked McRae what that dynamic is like — maybe he'll go, maybe he won't — before Game 3.

He ... clearly isn't too fazed by it.


• Josh Bell's defense is ... not ideal. His throwing has been an issue all season, but Hurdle remains encouraged by Bell's work ethic and willingness to improve in the field.


In a phone call with reporters today, Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk gave updates on the following players:

• Chris Archer (right biceps tendonitis) continues to make progress on flat ground. "We project him to throw off the slope in some type of side this weekend.”

• No change on Jameson Taillon as he recovers from Tommy John surgery performed in mid-August.

• Chris Stratton threw a 30-pitch side session Wednesday. They're monitoring his progress from there before making futher determinations.

• Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana continue their side progressions with the Bradenton group.

• Nick Burdi had a follow-up visit which revealed that Burdi "continues to have these intermittent symptoms on the lateral side of his right elbow. After a lengthy discussion and exam, ... Nick underwent a minor procedure to decompress some of the fascial tissue that was surrounding a nerve on the lateral side of the forearm." Burdi is projected to return to full baseball activities by Spring Training 2020.

 Crick, as reported initially when the story broke, had right-hand surgery to repair extensor tendons in his right index finger. Like Burdi, he is expected to be ready by Spring Training 2020.

• Gregory Polanco underwent the first platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection last week and is scheduled for his second of three injections next week in Pittsburgh.

• Jason Martin (dislocated left shoulder) is returning home to Arizona, where he will begin rehabbing Friday.

• Starling Marte (left wrist sprain) has made "minimal to no improvements" and is cleared to pinch-run in this Giants series. They will continue to assess his injury daily and progress as tolerated.

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