Things have been busy at PNC Park, so let’s get to it:
- In his media conference yesterday, Pirates manager Derek Shelton announced that non-roster camp invite Hector Noesi has decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to family concerns, and Shelton said that his roster spot wouldn’t be filled at this time. Noesi has bounced around a bit and is 33, so maybe some regrouping on his part is in order.
- Shelton also reported that projected closer Keone Kela has yet to show up at camp, but didn’t offer any explanations as to why. Of course, COVID-19 concerns immediately come to mind, but given Kela’s prickly relationship with management and media last year, that has to be thrown into the mix as well. This doesn’t bode well for the Bucs, as Kela’s upcoming free agency makes him tempting trade bait as well.
- Jose Osuna’s arrival in camp was delayed due to intake screening issues, but he was on the field both Tuesday and yesterday.
- In encouraging news, Jameson Taillon threw his first bullpen session with a catcher in back since his second Tommy John surgery. It was only twenty pitches, and Taillon isn’t pitching this season, but progress is progress. Taillon won’t be traveling with the Pirates, but he’ll alternate between PNC and Altoona for his rehab.
- Nick Burdi and Chad Kuhl, two more Bucs pitchers working their way back from injury, are looking very strong by all accounts. Burdi, who dealt with Tommy John and neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome surgeries pretty much back-to-back, continues topping 100 mph as he did in the spring (Taillon, ever the poet, described Burdi’s slider as “disgusting”). Kuhl, also returning from Tommy John surgery, is in the mix for Shelton’s planned “piggyback starters,” where he and Steven Brault would switch between starting and relieving in the fifth starter’s slot.
- Speaking of Kuhl, he pitched two innings behind Joe Musgrove’s five in a simulated game last night. Brault and Chris Stratton pitched another sim game yesterday afternoon, with the highlight being Brault getting smacked in the butt by a Kevin Newman liner. Brault’s okay and is cool with you making your own jokes about it.