Pirates notebook: Russell Martin, Jason Grilli nearing return from injuries


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NEW YORK -- The Pirate's two high-profile injured players, Russell Martin and Jason Grilli, faced each other Saturday as their recovery processes wind down.

Martin stood in the batter's box while Grilli pitched a simulated game. Martin, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring, also took batting practice, completed strength and agility drills, and ran the bases.

"It took a while to get loose," Martin said. "Once I got loose I opened up a little bit. I was running pretty aggressive. That's encouraging."

Martin also experienced less tightness in the hamstring after sprints than he felt previously. He said he has caught one bullpen session and will catch another Monday in addition to footwork and blocking drills.

"I think we've pushed through the middle part of this rehab," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're probably on the back end of it. We've got to make sure that -- he's so athletic catching -- that we get the proper amount of work in with gear, with drills, and hopefully some game-type opportunities or simulation so he can return sharp as well."

Martin said he did not think he needed a rehabilitation assignment but realized it was not entirely up to him.

"I felt good running," he said. "Do I feel like I've lost a feel for the game? No. I feel like I could play at the highest level right now, so that's what I'm expecting to do."

Grilli, who is on the 15-day DL because of a strained left oblique, threw 20 pitches in one inning.

"Followed the glove very well," Hurdle said. "I thought the breaking ball shaped up better than last time out, sharper. Threw some changeups. I thought it was a very good step forward for him."

The Pirates want Grilli to pitch on consecutive days before activating him, Hurdle said, and hope to have him do so when they return to Pittsburgh.

Extra session

Charlie Morton has had six days of rest, two more than starters usually get, between his most recent start and today's outing in Game 1 of the doubleheader against the New York Yankees. To keep sharp, he added a 15-pitch, "touch-and-feel" bullpen session Friday to his usual side session Tuesday.

"I try to keep my routine as close to what I would be doing as possible," Morton said.

Pimentel on the mend

Stolmy Pimentel, who is on the 15-day DL because of inflammation in his right shoulder, threw a 28-pitch bullpen session at Yankee Stadium under the watchful eye of pitching coach Ray Searage.

"Ray liked what he was able to see there," Hurdle said. "It's his first time throwing in a long time."

Pimentel will throw another bullpen session Monday, Hurdle said, and likely will rehab in Florida, where he could work out at the Pirates' spring training facility in Bradenton and make rehab outings with the Class A or Gulf Coast League affiliate.

Playing it by ear

Hurdle said the extra player the Pirates will call up for today's doubleheader is not guaranteed to be a relief pitcher.

"I think after [Saturday's] game we'll have a much better idea of which way we need to go," he said.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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