Notes from Neal Huntington's weekly Sunday meeting with reporters:
Upbeat on Taillon; Glasnow needs to throw changeup
On Wednesday, Jameson Taillon returned to the mound and pitched in a regular season game for the first time in two years. He went six innings, allowed one run and struck out six. Huntington said Taillon's fastball clocked in at slightly over 94 MPH.
"For him to come out with the crispness the sharpness of the stuff, the velocity, the comfort, was great," Huntington said. "A tremendous first step. Now we are looking for him to build on that and show the breaking ball he showed in the first outing is the breaking ball he is going to have."
Last night, Tyler Glasnow made his second start and posted an impressive nine strikeouts in five innings. However, Huntington pointed to the number of pitches (83) it took the right-hander to make it to the fifth.
"There's some inefficiency there," Huntington said. "Explosive fastball at times, inconsistent at others. Explosive breaking ball at times, inconsistent at others."
Most importantly, Huntington stressed that Glasnow needs to start throwing more changeups.
"Nearly a complete lack of use of the changeup," Huntington said. "The changeup development -- as many times as I say it, as many times as we say it to him -- is still going to be crucial for him to be a good Major League starting pitcher."
Huntington added that the organization may mandate a certain number of changeups per outing if they don't see increased usage over the next few starts.
Masterson with opportunity to join rotation
Justin Masterson is in Pirate City. The club will make a decision about his next step once he is stretched out.
Huntington indicated that the organization views Masterson as more than a depth option. If the right-hander shows signs of rediscovering the arsenal that made him an effective starter, he will have every opportunity to join the big-league starting rotation this season.
"[He is] not far removed from being a very good major league starting pitcher," Huntington said. "Our commitment to him, and the reason we signed him, was to be a potential starting pitcher for us at the Major League level. Our hope is we'll have five really good starting pitchers, and if there's not a sure-fire opportunity for him as a starter at the major-league level, we'll have the conversation at that point in time."
Huntington did not rule out Masterson joining the bullpen if the team's five starters are "rolling."
Kang, Hughes rehab
The Pirates announced that Jung Ho Kang will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A, Indianapolis this week. Huntington did not give a timetable for when Kang might return to the majors. But he emphasized that the Pirates' third baseman was well ahead of schedule, given the traumatic nature of his injury.
"I don't want anyone to think it's mid-to-late April and that he is behind; he is so far ahead where he thought he would be," Huntington said. "The fact it was a trauma surgeon that put him back together again, not an orthopedic surgeon. It's an injury we've never seen before in our time in baseball. I'm not sure there are many people that have seen this injury. It's a sample size of one and his progression has been remarkable."
Jared Hughes will join Kang in Indianapolis to begin his rehab assignment. Again, there is no timetable for his return.
Elias Diaz continues to have discomfort in his throwing arm. The pain is unrelated to the ligament, Huntington said. The organization is still in the process of gathering opinions as to the next plan of action.