Pirates keep medical staff busy, injury list stocked
It’s normal procedure for the Pittsburgh Pirates to have training and rehab facilities and medical staff stationed in Pittsburgh and Bradenton, Fla.
This season, they’ve needed every available doctor, specialist and examination table to assess, treat and heal 18 players who have spent time on the injury list since late March. No one is busier than Todd Tomczyk, the team’s director of sports medicine.
Before Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers at PNC Park, he offered details on injuries to Corey Dickerson, Keone Kela, Chris Archer, Nick Burdi and several other players. Here is a rundown of the most significant situations:
• Left fielder Dickerson (shoulder strain): This might be the injury that has affected the team the most. After hitting .300 and winning a Gold Glove last season, Dickerson played in only four games before he was shut down April 4. It has forced the Pirates to call up Triple-A outfielders Bryan Reynolds and Jason Martin before the team had planned.
“The team is assessing right now his overall range of motion, overall strength in hopes of playing catch (Wednesday),” Tomczyk said. “The situation is very fluid. The picture will become more clear in the next three to four days.”
Tomczyk said it’s “debatable” whether the injury was caused by overuse or mechanics.
“The most important thing with Corey is he is progressing,” he said. “When throwers’ muscles strain, whether the front or the back, they take time. Unfortunately, this is taking a little bit longer than anybody would have liked.”
• Starting pitcher Archer (thumb irritation): Archer, who is eligible to come off the injured list, threw on the side Tuesday.
“He came out of it well, came out of it well (Wednesday) morning,” Tomczyk said. “The next step with Chris, tentatively, is we have a (batting practice simulation) scheduled for Friday in St. Louis. He continues to trend upward.”
• Relief pitcher Kela (right shoulder discomfort): He was put on the injured list after the 9-6 loss to the Rangers with right shoulder inflammation. The Pirates have 10 players on the list as they leave on an 11-game road trip to St. Louis, Arizona and San Diego. Kela’s injury put additional strain on the bullpen that has lost Steven Brault and Nick Kingham to the starting rotation and had six of its members throw Monday night and three of them come back Tuesday.
• Relief pitcher Burdi (biceps): His injury was probably the most dramatic. It occurred April 22 after throwing a pitch. He crumpled to the ground in pain, clutching his bicep with tears in his eyes.
Tomczyk said the “root cause“ of the pain was the stretching and compressing of a complex set of nerves that exit the spine. “To a point where it just caused Nick that excruciating pain in his bicep,” he said.
The good news is Burdi’s reconstructed UCL ligament is intact, and there is no current recommendation of surgery.
“This will take time. Six weeks of no throw (since April 22), reassess at that time,” Tomczyk said.
• Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall (fractured finger, calf strain): Tomczyk said the goal is for Chisenhall to run the bases “in the coming days.”
“Once that all checks out and is clear, the final goal is to get him on a rehab assignment to get him some at-bats in the near future.”
• Shortstop Erik Gonzalez (fractured clavicle): He had his surgical stitches removed Wednesday, and he has been cleared to begin “gentle running.”
• Pitcher Jameson Taillon (elbow tendon strain): A second opinion confirmed the original diagnosis, which was no throwing for a total of four weeks.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .