The Pirates have halted the rehab assignment of righty Keone Kela, the club informed reporters including Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (Twitter link). He has been sidelined since early May with a shoulder issue that hasn’t yet fully dissipated.
Kela made one appearance at Triple-A on May 25th, at which time it seemed he was not far from a return to the majors. But he obviously did not bounce back and progress as hoped. There’s still no reason to believe that Kela is dealing with a major injury. His handling to this point suggests that’s not really a concern.
The team says recurrent discomfort has led to the decision to pull Kela from the assignment. He’ll be shut down for about ten days before any further steps are decided upon. What will happen at that point — reexamination, resumption of throwing, etc. — isn’t really clear.
It seems safe to presume that the Bucs will go without Kela for a decent while longer, even if he does show fairly quick improvement and is ready to begin ramping back up after ten days. He’s a reliever, which limits the need to build up innings, but the club will want to avoid any further setbacks by moving too rapidly. Once he does resume his rehab assignment, Kela will have thirty days to complete it.
Kela’s absence stings with the Pirates trying to weather a rough stretch for the rotation. The 26-year-old was not off to the best start to the present season, with a 4.63 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. His swinging-strike rate is down quite a bit and he had already allowed three long balls. Still, that’s a short sample and Kela is coming off of a very strong 2018 campaign.