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Williams nearly ready to return

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004

MILWAUKEE -- Dave Williams took a step toward returning from the disabled list. Not so for fellow Pirates pitcher Kip Wells.

Williams passed a significant test when he threw a 30-pitch simulated game Monday afternoon at Miller Park. Wells, however, reached only 41 pitches during his mound session and might not be cleared to start in

time for Thursday's series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers.

"He has made substantial improvement, but I think he's still a ways away," pitching coach Spin Williams said.

Manager Lloyd McClendon will meet with his coaches and trainers today to discuss the possible return for his injured pitchers.

Dave Williams, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 12 because of a strained right rib cage muscle, could be back as soon as Wednesday when rosters expand. In his simulated game, Williams threw 15 pitches out of the wind-up and 15 out of the stretch while facing Rob Mackowiak, Humberto Cota, Jose Bautista and Abraham Nunez.

Williams got through the session without incident, although he did give up a home run to Bautista.

"Toward the end, I felt like I was back to normal," he said. "It was good to be able to test some things and get feedback from the hitters."

Spin Williams was encouraged by Williams' progress.

"It was better than I expected," he said. "He had pretty good command of the ball."

Needing a starter Thursday, the Pirates could turn to Nelson Figueroa or call someone up from the minors if Wells isn't ready.

Wells' bullpen session was his second since he was placed on the disabled list with right elbow discomfort. Wells hasn't made a start since Aug. 13.

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