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Pirates notebook: Marte set to return to Dominican lineup

| Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 4:39 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Dominican Republic center fielder Starling Marte smiles at Pirates third baseman David Freese after Marte hit a line-drive over Freese's head during an exhibition game Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — After missing three of the Dominican Republic's first four World Baseball Classic tournament games because of a right ankle injury, Starling Marte is expected to return to the lineup Thursday for the Dominican's game against Venezuela.

“I've talked to the (D.R.'s) medical staff and Starling almost every day,” Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday afternoon. “They anticipate him being back into game activity tomorrow.”

Marte suffered the injury in the Dominican's final exhibition tune-up before the tournament began last week — coincidentally, his ankle roll took place at LECOM Park in a game against the Pirates on March 8.

Marte's only WBC game action was a dramatic win against the United States on Saturday in Miami. He went 3 for 4 with a solo homer and two runs scored.

Marte's Pirates teammate, Gregory Polanco, has been playing center field for the Dominican when Marte has been out.

Planet of the aches

Tomczyk updated the status of players in Pirates camp who are recovering from injury:

• Right-hander Brandon Cumpton threw off a slope for a second time this spring as he continues his lengthy recovery from Tommy John and shoulder surgeries. Although Tomczyk said “he's progressing well” and “his responses have been very positive,” Cumpton is not yet close to being cleared to pitch in live games.

• Two others who had 2015 Tommy John surgery ­— Angel Sanchez and Casey Sadler — have shown no ill effects from their long-awaited returns to game action over the past week.

• Infielder Jason Rogers (right ankle discomfort) “is doing everything but sprinting full-out right now,” Tomczyk said. Rogers is taking ground balls, throwing across a diamond, hitting and performing slight agility work but is not ready to be cleared to play in a game.

• Reliever Jason Stoffel (right shoulder discomfort) is expected to be able to throw off flat ground later this week.

Classic memories

With the elimination of Italy and Canada from the WBC in the past week, catcher Francisco Cervelli and minor league infielder Eric Wood are in the process of re-joining the Pirates' camp.

Wood was the first to make his presence felt in the McKechnie clubhouse.

“It was awesome,” said Wood, who had two hits in playing in all three of Canada's games at third base. “I really, really enjoyed it.”

Wood singled out a lasting memory from the experience —­ his first at-bat of the tournament, against Carlos Martinez in Miami with its pro-Dominican crowd.

“Everybody is going nuts with all their instruments and whatnot,” Wood said. “I couldn't hear myself think.”

Cervelli is expected to re-join the team in Bradenton on Thursday, Hurdle said.

Around the horn

The Pirates will play their first scheduled night game of the spring at 6:05 Thursday at Fort Myers against the Red Sox. The only other Pirates night games in Grapefruit League play come on two of their final three days in Florida: March 27 and 28 at home against the Red Sox and Phillies, respectively. … Five days after being named part of the advisory board for the Taylor Hooten Foundation for advocacy against appearance and performance enhancing drugs, reliever Jared Hughes wore a sleeveless T-shirt in the clubhouse Wednesday that bared his slender arms and read, “Call Me PED Free.” Hughes quipped: “I know it's hard to believe, but it's true.” ... The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will honor former Pirates center fielder and manager Bill Virdon with a life-size statue May 25 here in Springfield, Mo.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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