Timetable for Pirates' Grilli: 4 to 8 weeks

Travis Sawchik
| Friday, July 26, 2013, 3:27 p.m.

MIAMI — The Pirates received positive news regarding Jason Grilli on Friday: The team's closer will not need surgery.

Grilli has been diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right arm, according to Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. Grilli will require a period of rest before beginning a throwing program and will be evaluated again in 10 to 14 days. Grilli is not a “candidate” for surgery, Huntington said. He is not with the team in Miami.

Pitchers with this type of flexor injury can miss between four and eight weeks, though other pitchers, such as Baltimore's Dylan Bundy, have had flexor-related injuries and eventually required surgery.

“It's about as good as we could hope for,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I'm happy for him. I'm happy for us. There's a chance we can get him back with a volume of games left on the docket.”

Grilli left Monday's game in Washington in the ninth inning after feeling discomfort in his right arm. The flexor muscles begin at the elbow and lead to the flexor tendons, which attach to the bones in the fingers. Grilli indicated his pain was near his elbow where the flexor muscles are located.

Hurdle was not sure if the injury was related to muscle or tendons. Hurdle was hesitant to announce a concrete timetable for Grilli, who has been arguably the best closer in baseball this season with 30 saves and a 2.34 ERA.

“I think anytime you have to throw out numbers, it's something of a guessing game,” Hurdle said. “He's down 10 to 14 days with no activity, rehab only. We'll start there, and if all works well, then build back the arm. “

Grilli was evaluated by team doctors and Dr. James Andrews this week. Andrews performed his Tommy John surgery in 2002.

“He wanted to make sure he was able to reach out and get looked at by the people he felt comfortable seeing,” Hurdle said.

Mark Melancon has been named as the team's interim closer, but Hurdle said the rest of the bullpen roles likely will be by committee.

“We have some options,” Hurdle said. “We've already given a couple late-inning opportunities to (Bryan) Morris. (Justin) Wilson got one the other night. … We are not going to pinpoint anybody and say he has the seventh, he has the eighth.”

Rotation nearly set for series against St. Louis

The Pirates have not made a decision on who will start the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against St. Louis, but Hurdle said the rest of the rotation remains on schedule.

Francisco Liriano is set to match up with Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook in the series opener Monday. A.J. Burnett likely will pitch the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader, Jeff Locke will start Wednesday, followed by Charlie Morton on Thursday.

Talented rookies Shelby Miller and Gerrit Cole are not expected to pitch in the series.

Tabata progressing

Outfielder Jose Tabata was out of the starting lineup after being hit by a pitch Wednesday in Washington that produced swelling on his right forearm.

“We are going to give him a couple days,” Hurdle said. “There is improvement. ... I thought he made pretty good strides (Thursday) getting some strength and flexibility back. He swung the bat. He took some aggressive swings in batting practice. He actually went and tried to throw. ... I anticipate him being able to throw before the weekend is out.”

Rodriguez update

Pirates rehabbing left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez was schedule to make 70 throws from 80 feet on flat ground and 70 throws from 90 feet from flat ground Friday. Hurdle did not have a timetable for Rodriguez's return to throwing from a mound.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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