The Pittsburgh Pirates have had one of baseball’s best bullpens during the past three-plus weeks, and the unit has been missing one of its best arms.
That player appears close to rejoining his fellow relievers.
Keone Kela experienced no setbacks during a bullpen throwing session Wednesday. Kela has been on the injured list since May 8 because of shoulder inflammation.
“Everything went very, very well,” manager Clint Hurdle said of Kela’s work, which included 29 pitches. “He felt good. He felt strong.”
That’s an improvement over when Kela first attempted to test his shoulder early last month. He was subsequently shut down for about 10 days after things “just didn’t feel right.”
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The next step for Kela is to pitch a simulated game Saturday. If all goes well, he could be back with the Pirates after next week’s All-Star break.
Kela, the Texas Rangers closer last season until the Pirates traded for him at the deadline, entered the season as the primary setup man for closer Felipe Vazquez. Kela has averaged more strikeouts (11.0) than hits and walks (10.26) per nine innings over his career.