PITTSBURGH — The return of Pirates rookie star Ke’Bryan Hayes appears to be near.
Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday that Hayes, who sustained a left wrist injury in the second game of the season on April 3, began swinging a bat on Tuesday and continued to do so on Wednesday with no issues.
“Definitely a step in the right direction. Definitely progress,” Tomczyk said. “He’s also taking ground balls on the field, running the bases and [doing] defensive work. So all in all, very encouraging.”
Hayes was eligible to come off the 10-day injured list ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Padres at PNC Park, but he was not activated. Tomczyk said it’s a “safe assumption” that Hayes would not return for Thursday’s series finale, but the club has not made a forecast as to whether he could return this weekend in Milwaukee.
“We just don’t want to make a very reactive decision based on the great progress that he’s made, because we want to make sure that Ke’Bryan has the confidence,” Tomczyk said. “We want to make sure that he is Ke’Bryan before he returns on that field.”
The picture regarding Hayes’ return seemed less favorable on Tuesday, when manager Derek Shelton said the third baseman had not begun swinging the bat and was being evaluated day to day. But Wednesday’s update provides more optimism, especially because Hayes’ swings are soft-toss with contact, not dry swings.
Tomczyk said the medical staff has developed the timetable for Hayes’ progression mainly through conversations with him and daily assessments, as opposed to a set schedule. The nature of the injury was more of a stretching/pulling discomfort vs. a compact injury, so the Pirates have taken a “wait and see” approach.
“Once that soreness resolves and that joint and that wrist itself regains motion and function, then you progress, and you just introduce different stresses and see how the body responds,” Tomczyk said.
Here are other updates Tomczyk provided regarding injured Pirates players:
• Right-hander Cody Ponce is scheduled to throw a multi-inning simulated game “in the coming days.” General manager Ben Cherington said in his Sunday radio show on 93.7 The Fan that he expected Ponce to throw a three-inning game this week as the right-hander is stretched out to start.
“We’ll see how he responds to that,” Tomczyk said. “Cody’s making very nice progress as well.”
• “The timeline remains the same” for left-hander Steven Brault (left lat strain), per Tomczyk, as Brault continues to work through range-of-motion and strength exercises in Bradenton, Fla.
Brault was shut down on March 24, at which point Tomczyk said the southpaw would take a month off throwing and be reevaluated.
• Right-hander Blake Cederlind (Tommy John surgery) was fitted for a postoperative brace and is now beginning his rehab in Bradenton, which mainly consists of range-of-motion exercises and monitoring the healing process of his scar from surgery.
• Right-hander José Soriano, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, is continuing through a simulated-game progression in Bradenton. The Rule 5 Draft pick will need to spend at least 90 days on the active roster this season or else be offered back to the Angels, his former club.
• Left-hander Austin Davis (left elbow sprain) went through a side session earlier this week in which he threw all his pitch types. He’s expected to throw a bullpen session later this week.