Pirates GM Ben Cherington updated reporters (including Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) with the latest on several injured Bucs players. The most imminent news concerns Chad Kuhl, who will be activated from the 10-day injured list to start Monday’s game with the Royals.
Kuhl was placed on the IL on April 22 due to right shoulder discomfort. After tossing a pair of rehab outings at Triple-A, Kuhl will look to get back on the big league mound and turn the page on what has been a tough 2021 season. Kuhl has a 6.32 ERA over his first four starts and 15 2/3 innings, in large part due to an extreme lack of control — Kuhl has 16 walks in those 15 2/3 innings.
“Part of Chad’s rehab was not just getting healthy, it was making sure that he continued to build off what he had done in that last start and attack the strike zone,” Cherington said, referencing Kuhl’s final start before his IL visit. While Kuhl still allowed three earned runs in five innings against the Brewers on April 18, he did walk just one Milwaukee batter, while striking out six.
Ke’Bryan Hayes might also soon be returning to the Pirates, as Cherington indicated that “all reports have been good” about Hayes’ Triple-A rehab stint. The star rookie went on the IL after just two games due to left wrist inflammation, and his recovery process already hit one setback in April. With so much time missed, Cherington felt Hayes needed “almost a Spring Training progression” to get ramped up, since “the last thing we wanted to do was sort of rush him back and then something else happens because his body was just not ready….So that’s why you’ve seen maybe a little longer progression than we would in some other cases with rehab.”
Hayes has already appeared in seven games with Triple-A Indianapolis, and figures to clock a few more appearances before June 3, when he is eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day injured list. It is quite possible Hayes will be activated that day, when the Pirates begin a four-game series at home with the Marlins.
Colin Moran and Phillip Evans are also likely to be starting rehab assignment of their own, possibly as early as within the next two days, Cherington implied. Moran has been out since May 9 due to a groin injury, while Evans went on the IL on May 13 because of a hamstring strain. Evans’ versatility helped the Pirates fill several holes around the diamond before he too was lost to the injured list, while Moran has hit well as the team’s regular first baseman.
On the minor league front, Cherington said that Travis Swaggerty’s dislocated right shoulder is “going in [the] direction” of requiring surgery. Swaggerty suffered the injury while diving back to first base during a Triple-A game, and he has spent much of the last two weeks weighing recovery options. Swaggerty was the tenth overall pick of the 2018 draft, and MLB Pipeline ranks him as the ninth-best prospect in Pittsburgh’s farm system. Surgery would seemingly end the season for the outfielder, an especially tough blow since Swaggerty already lost a year of development when the 2020 minor league season was canceled.