Catcher Ryan Doumit is optimistic he can return to the Pirates' lineup within two weeks, half the time the team originally forecast when his left thumb was fractured.
"Mark my words," Doumit said. "I will be back sooner than anyone thinks."
Dr. Mark Baratz, the Pirates' hand specialist, has cleared Doumit to take dry swings, but the team's preference yesterday was to wait another day or so to be cautious. As a result, Doumit was limited to throwing, which he does with his right hand.
Still, the clearance itself comes roughly two weeks earlier than expected, and another examination today could bring more positive news, that being that the small, horizontal fracture in the tip of the thumb has not spread or affected the nearby joint.
INDIANAPOLIS (23-24)lost to Louisville, 2-0. RHP Jason Davis (2-5, 4.66) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. RHP Romulo Sanchez (3.05) pitched two scoreless innings of relief. LF Nyjer Morgan (.214) went 1 for 3 with a walk and two steals. CF Andrew McCutchen (.282) went 1 for 4 and had an outfield assist. 3B Neil Walker (.209) went 0 for 4 and committed his sixth error.
ALTOONA (15-27) lost at Akron, 4-1. RHP Yoslan Herrera (3-4, 3.25) allowed four runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out one, walked four and threw a wild pitch. RHP Evan Meek (6.00) pitched two scoreless innings of relief. SS Jack Wilson (.000), in the fifth game of his minor-league rehabilitation, went 0 for 3 and played six innings in the field, recording three assists and a putout.
LYNCHBURG (17-28)lost to Salem, 13-9. LHP Brian Holliday (1-2, 4.50) allowed eight runs, five earned, and five hits in 2 2/3 innings. LF Jared Keel (.216) hit his fifth home run, a grand slam, and went 2 for 3 with a walk.
HICKORY (24-23) lost to Columbus, 2-1. RHP Brad Clapp (0-4, 3.80) allowed two runs, one earned, and five hits in five innings. RHP Ronald Uviedo (2.14) pitched three scoreless innings of relief.
Doumit also expressed confidence that he can return quickly, in part because his grip on the bat -- while batting left-handed -- does not involve his thumb much. Thus, he said, it will take little in the way of tuneups for him to be ready.
In what seemed to be impeccable timing, given the excruciating three-hour, nine-minute affair Tuesday between the Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers, Major League Baseball yesterday issued a directive to speed up several aspects of the game.
• Umpires will aggressively call batters and pitchers into position. A batter who lingers outside the box will get a called strike, and a pitcher who violates the 12-second limit between pitches -- already on the books but almost never enforced -- will be warned once, then assessed a ball.
• Batters no longer will be granted time once the pitcher begins his delivery.
• Meetings on the mound will be broken up quickly.
• Relievers must be ready to leave the bullpen as soon as they are summoned.
• Batboys will hold one of the batter's extra bats in case the bat being used breaks.
Coincidence or not, the game last night ended in a tidy two hours, 31 minutes. But that probably had more to do with Ben Sheets' efficiency than anything the umpires did.
Those watching shortstop Jack Wilson's rehabilitation stint with Class AA Altoona -- he played his second game with the Curve last night in Akron, Ohio -- said every aspect of his game, from defensive footwork to hitting to running the bases, looks fine.
It could be determined tonight or tomorrow when he will return to the Pirates.
• Reliever Damaso Marte had a minor procedure to remove two ingrown toenails yesterday but was deemed available to pitch.
• Outfielder Steve Pearce, one of the Pirates' top hitting prospects at Class AAA Indianapolis, has missed the past two games with a tight hamstring. He will return soon.
• Outfielder James Boone, who had a terrific April for Altoona but long has had trouble staying healthy, was placed on the minor league disabled list with a right shoulder injury.
• Although Danny Moskos, the Pirates' first-round draft pick last summer, was pulled after 1 2/3 innings Tuesday for Class A Lynchburg, he will make his next scheduled start Sunday.
• The Pirates announced they are offering half-price outfield tickets for all remaining Sunday games to all military personnel. Tickets must be purchased at a PNC Park box office with military identification.