Pirates Notebook: Injury Updates, Josh Bell’s Defense, Remaining Free Agents

BRADENTON, Fla. – Every Wednesday during the season, the Pirates release an injury update via Head Athletic Trainer Todd Tomczyk. Today was the first update for 2017, and fortunately there was only one player who needed an update. That was Josh Bell, who is in week two of his 2-4 week recovery from knee surgery.

Tomczyk said that Bell is still falling in his projected 2-4 week return, and that he’s currently doing on field work, throwing, and taking dry swings in the batting cages. Bell said earlier this week that he hopes to progress to hitting at some point this week. There’s still no word on whether he will be ready for Opening Day, but the early signs of his rehab have been encouraging.

Chris Stewart and Gerrit Cole are both healthy now, but both had injuries last year. Tomczyk said that the team is taking a concerted effort with Stewart’s buildup, due to his history of knee surgeries. As for Cole, who went on the disabled list three times last year with shoulder issues, Tomczyk said he’s recommitting to training.

“Gerrit has recommitted himself again to training,” Tomczyk said. “He had an eventful offseason, getting married, honeymoon. It’s never a lack of focus with Gerrit. Gerrit is a very diligent man. He knows his body. He works hard. I think he just went through some hiccups that most pitchers do throughout the season, in figuring out what you can and can’t do with the demands of throwing a baseball put upon a player. He’s in a good spot. He’s focused on getting back out there and helping the team win this year.”

Huntington on Josh Bell’s Defense

Neal Huntington was asked yesterday about Josh Bell’s defensive work since moving to first base, and whether the team sees him as a guy who can carry a full-season workload at the position with his defense.

“As we saw last year, it’s still a work in progress,” Huntington said. “This is year three of him playing first base. Unlike most guys who played the infield growing up and moved to the outfield, Josh played the outfield growing up. There’s work to be done. He’s worked so hard. Kevin Young and Joey Cora, since he’s come on board in that role, they’ve worked with Josh. Josh has worked hard. Work is never going to be a question. He seems like he’s in a great spot.”

The knee surgery recently probably won’t play an impact in Bell’s defensive work. His conditioning over the offseason might play a bigger role in adding more flexibility and more agility at the position.

“Physically, he was in tremendous shape before the loose body moved and bothered him during one of his workouts and they had to go get that thing out of there. He should be in a good spot. He should be ready to go, assuming everything continues to progress well. We love the bat and the glove. He’s going to work. He’s going to do everything in his power, and we feel like he can be an adequate first baseman that can develop into more.”

More to Come From the Free Agent Market?

Huntington said that the club continues to stay engaged with free agents, even after Spring Training has begun. There are still a few talented players available on the market, and the Pirates made late additions last year of Matt Joyce and David Freese, with the latter being signed in early March. So could they go that route again? Huntington really wasn’t committed to the idea, other than saying they were still talking to free agents.

“We stay engaged with the free agents and there really hasn’t been anybody that has surprised us, in terms of what they signed for, or how they signed, or where they signed,” Huntington said. “Always looking to find ways to help us get a little bit better. Going into the offseason, I bet most of you weren’t going to have that we signed the 13th most valuable contract, and spent the 10th most money in baseball this [offseason]. I think it’s probably more of a sign of the industry this year, and the class than anything else. We’re always looking for ways, whether it’s small ways or medium ways or sometimes big ways to see if we can help ourselves get better.”

Other Notes

**Clint Hurdle said that Andrew McCutchen will bat in the three hole this year, but said most of the rest of the lineup is written in pencil at the moment.

**Tony Watson was out of camp today with his arbitration hearing.

**Hurdle on the depth that is coming from the minor league system this year: “This is the first time that we have filled a lot of our depth options internally with our own players. Our minor league system has been so fertile, so productive, we’ve got guys in camp now putting themselves in position that we think will help us during the 2017 season.”

  • I’m with my Bucco-Friend-in-MD (where I happen to reside); NH is not an excellent or great GM.

  • Cardinals Alex Reyes out for over a year with Tommy John surgery slated.
    Wow, tough news for the player and the Cardinals.

  • Nobody was harder on Sean Rodriquez early last year than me – but sad news that it now looks like he will miss all of 2017. His performance last year earned him a chance to make a decent paycheck and take care of his family – hopefully they will all make a full recovery and he can get back on the field in 2018.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      February 15, 2017 4:52 pm

      I saw that too – fortunately, it appears that he will recover and everyone in his family is okay. Too bad he may miss all of 2017 season, but he’s fortunate that he got the big contract before the accident….

  • Thanks for the videos, Tim!

    Doesn’t look like much, if any, baby fat is left on Hayes.

  • I am with someone else in here who feels that the Pirates might pick up a good 4th outfielder. I know guys like Frazier can play the outfield. But he is not an outfielder by trade.

    • Totally agree. Waiting for a grizzled vet like Angel Pagan or Coco Crisp on a 1 yr $3M deal.

      • I was actually thinking one of then would make a great addition off the bench.

        • Yeah, sure. Just what the Pirates need. Coco Crisp is a 38 year old OFr who can’t even get the ball to the cutoff man any more. SMFH…

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      February 15, 2017 4:03 pm

      Broxton would look good there….too bad we traded him, AND Supak, for an overweight AAAA first baseman.

      • JoseGuillensArm
        February 15, 2017 4:27 pm

        keep beating that horse man

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          February 15, 2017 4:53 pm

          Yep – will keep reminding everyone of how bad of a GM NH is….until he’s replaced….he’s a weak link….he’s hurt the team more than helped it over the past 2-3 years….

          • JoseGuillensArm
            February 15, 2017 8:29 pm

            Absolutely, such a worse place versus 3 years ago. We’re saddled with these bums Marte and Polanco until 2021 thanks to this weak link. Man, I can’t wait until Harold Ramirez harnesses his inner Jose Tabata and McGuire shows us we don’t need Chris Stewart so we can really stick it to Huntington. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him when I see that budding superstar Keon Broxton in center for the Brewers….damn you Neal!

            • BuccosFanStuckinMD
              February 15, 2017 9:03 pm

              So, you would rather have Rogers vs. Broxton and Supak? You think throwing in two of your top 10 prospects (according to the Pirates and many scouting services), so Toronto will take Liriano was a good deal? How about the Alex Dickerson for Jaff Decker trade? We could have used Dickerson last year, instead of having to trot Jaso out there every day. BTW, I could be wrong, but I believe Marte was signed before NH’s tenure. And as far as position players are concerned, Marte and Polanco is all we have to show for the past 5+ years….and this from a well above average farm system. I suspect you are holding out hope that Hutchinson was the real key to the Liriano trade and that he will be a quality ML starting pitcher….

              • JoseGuillensArm
                February 15, 2017 9:54 pm

                It’s more about looking at the organization as a whole and not dissecting each transaction and lamenting about every piece of minutia. You bring up the Rogers trade on a nearly weekly basis arguing that Jason is no more than “an overweight AAAA first baseman,” but yet you counter that supposedly organization damning trade by citing Alex Dickerson and Keon Broxton? I’m admittedly not a huge Rogers fan, but it doesn’t take more than a couple google searches to see that he has seen more success than both of those guys have at the major league level. Regardless of what any of their futures’ hold do you really think those trades have any real impact on this team or their future chances of competing? The Liriano trade is a head scratcher as the members of this site have concluded, but the general perception of the prospects involved in that trade has seemingly taken a significant hit. So what some would call two top 10 prospects may end up being fringe pieces, not the impact talent they were previously seen as. Overall, all of this goes back to your idea that Neal is a bad GM. It’s very convenient to pick out several small transactions or decisions, like not to protect a player from the rule 5 draft, and conclude that a GM has done a poor job, and completely ignore the general uptick the organization has seen during his tenure.

                Also, Marte signed his extension on March 27, 2014. Huntington took the GM job in 2007. Might be time to do a little more research with your posts….

          • I hang on a number of BB’s, in a variety of sports. You might be the biggest Knucklehead of them all.

          • michael schalke
            February 16, 2017 10:36 am

            Please go away.

      • You know I tried blocking you because I can’t stand the persistent and baseless negatively…but then I got confused as hell when I read all the well written and intelligent replies to a comment I couldn’t see.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          February 15, 2017 8:57 pm

          Then you have a very selective memory – I write positive posts when there is something to commend or be positive about. I am not a blind homer or an apologist for the team’s overrated management….I call them like I see them. Feel free to block me, if your sensitivities are that fragile. Unlike some of the posters who respond to me, I don’t call people names, use offensive language, or engage in childish nonsense. The Pirates management have earned their criticism – compared to 2-3 years ago, this team and organization is much weaker – mostly due to the many poor decisions in trades, high draft picks, and under-utilizing a supposed great farm system.

        • I know dude. It’s the only reason I don’t have him blocked. Like to see the Aweful posts everyone is writing such good put-downs to.

  • The update on Stewart makes more sense than the last one, it sounded like his playing days were in questions after the injury happened last year. Diaz needs to stay healthy!

  • I always say this bout NH. Every phone call he makes/gets from another GM, that guy has a HUGE advantage knowing the Pirates “Nutting Salary Cap” Can’t imagine trying to get fair deals when the other GM knows, he HAS to trade a Walker, a Liriana, and now a Cutch or a Harrison..soon a Watson…he does an exceptional job…imagine if he didnt have such constraints

    • I certainly wish NH had more to spend but I don’t think he is alone – almost every GM has to live within a budget and has financial constraints. Overall I think the Bucs have done a pretty job getting fair returns in trades – in hindsight they may have asked for the “right” return – but I don’t think they have been taken advantage of any more than any other team.

    • This is rather myopic

    • Absolutely correct!!!!

  • NH is a great GM but is touting the “13th most valuable contract” and spending the “10th most money” this offseason really much to brag about? This was a quiet offseason for most teams when you compare it to recent offseasons.

    • That was his point.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      February 15, 2017 4:02 pm

      Great GM? Based on what and compared to who?

      • Based on the perception of everyone outside of Pittsburgh, and compared to the other GMs in baseball.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          February 15, 2017 4:56 pm

          “everyone outside of Pittsburgh”

          Really??

          Who are these people who still consider NH a great GM? I can think of 12-15 I’d trade NH for in a heartbeat…I cringe every time the Pirates announce a trade….he’s had a few decent trades (like Cervelli for example), but most have been bad or mind-numbing…..

          • I heard Keith Law say the same thing to David Todd yesterday. The fact that you are one of those people who THINK they know more about a subject they really have little information about. You don’t have one tenth of the information on players that an MLB GM has access to, and that fact alone points out what a fool you truly are to talk the way you do.

            • Good to very good. Great sounds like hyperbole. And he was very bad in 2016 but everyone has a bad year.

              Welcome back LEO! Missed your orneriness.

              • Bay, Walker, Supak, Broxton among the bad. Jury out on McGuire. I greatly respect Neal for admitting his bad deals. But he has made some very good trades as we all know. On balance most agree he has done a good job with the resources he has.
                And its a damn good thing Nutting didn’t can everybody after that second year end collapse….before the playoff appearances. Reports were that it was a real possibility. Nutting stayed the coarse with his team of managers and it paid off and on budget.

                • Please help me understand how Supak and Braxton would ever have made any significant contributions to a Pirate team with way better outfield and pitching options?

                  Would Broston be playing regularly -.where and how often – is Supak going to pitch ahead of Kingham or Kuhl or Keller?

                  You are delusional if you think the Piratescwere going to pay Bay or Walker the kind of money they could earn elsewhere. There is an article today on MLBTR that the Mets and Walker are working on a 3 year $40M extension…

                  That deal is so far out of the realm of possibilities for the Pirates to question your sanity…

                  Why would any team pay that kind of money for that many years to a 2 WAR second baseman with a bad back who could see his career end any day.

                  • Good points. The “new” Pirates (since 2007) have developed so much talent within the system that we are going to look stupid on those occasions where guys who we trade do something worthwhile elsewhere.

                    It goes with the territory. The Pirates have discovered talent in late rounds of the Amateur Draft and have two starting position players signed out of the International Draft. And, the Pirates have re-discovered plenty of talent that other teams had no further use for, or had already discarded.

                  • My comments were not about future salary, it was about NH and his trading history both good and bad and my view that I’m glad Nutting stuck with him.
                    Throwing around “delusional” insults and questioning my sanity while you switch focus to salary is characteristic of your remarks. Do you think the Walker, Bay, Broxton/Supak trades were good ones? Neal doesn’t and has publicly admitted they did not yield what he was looking for.

                  • I don’t know. 3 years 40 million for Walker isn’t that much. Maybe with his age and injury history

          • You act like NH stole your girlfriend.

          • Really

          • The Melancon trade was a steal.

        • You will have a tough choice to make going forward – will u continue to tolerate trolls like this idiot or try and raise the quality of the comments and interaction…

          Repeating the same old crap day after day is not adding any value to this site

          • We have the ability to mute people. If there’s someone you don’t want to hear from, that’s an option.

            My choice for the comments is easy. I just expect everyone to act like an adult. That means having mature and thoughtful discussions. It also means ignoring someone when they are acting childish.

      • Based on the rebuilding of the entire organization, leading to steady improvement since he took over in 2007, ultimately leading into a three-time post season participant. All of that done on a very limited budget to say the least.

      • He’s easily the best GM the Pirates have had the past 25 years, I’ll gurantee you that.

      • You cannot argue that he has made a lot of significant changes to the talent on this team during his tenure here. Pirates have always had one of the top rated farm systems, they usually get it right with their free agent signings and have for the majority struck gold with their pitcher reclamation projects.

        Last year was terrible as far as the Walker trade and Vogelsong signing but he also made excellent moves with the bench guys he brought in last year in Joyce, Freese and even Jaso to a degree.

        Look, I’m a NH fan but I’m also happy to criticize where it’s warranted. I think he overestimated to impact that guys like Glasnow and Taillon would have on the rotation last year but you also have to consider the budget he has to work with. I also think they could do a better job with drafting hitters, we haven’t seen much come out his the Pirates drafts in recent years when it comes to this. Aside from Meadows I wonder if the other hitters they drafted like Will Craig will amount to much in the majors. On the flip side, they appear to have done a great job with drafting pitchers.

        For all we know, ownership is giving him a hard budget line that he can never go over. I think when you consider that aspect he’s done a great job.

    • My first reaction to those comments was that it sounds like the brass’ reaction to criticisms of them being cheap from the outside. Also smacks of “echo chamber” talk to convince themselves that the critics are wrong. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. It assumes that it would NOT be ok to be somewhere down the list of who spent money. Where is that “mendoza line”? 12th most money? 15th most money? Where do they draw the line? Who takes credit for being 10th anyway? Just a goofy comment any way you shake it. Not that I care much as long as the results are there. PECOTA (I think) projects them 81-81 so keep the bragging under wraps, especially when its about 10th place in spending.

      • 10th place is well above the median in spending. Good counter to the “Bucs are cheap” mantra.

      • Yea I was thinking along the same line. I haven’t heard anyone say “I hope the Pirates sign a top 15 most valuable contract this offseason”. Hey i am glad they signed Nova, I think its a great signing and a much needed part of this team but they lucked out a little with the market being so slow this year.

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