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Huntington On Another Key Injury, Managing This Pitching Staff

Despite Injuries, This Pirates Team Continues To Battle With A Next Man Up Mentality

May 05, 2019 - 1:51 pm

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - The Pittsburgh Pirates are back at .500 (15-15) at the beginning of May and 3.5 games back of 1st place in the NL Central and 3 games back of a Wild Card spot early on.

The arrow was pointed down last Sunday when General Manger Neal Huntington joined Greg Brown for his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan and the Pirates Radio Network as the Pirates were looking to snap a losing skid.

This Sunday, the arrow is starting to point back up as the Pirates have won 3 of their last 4 and it seems like the offense is starting to wake up a little bit to support the pitching staff.

Injuries was the topic of the show last week and that remains a big topic on the show this week as Jameson Taillon was placed on the 10-day IL with a right elbow flexor strain on Saturday.

"Any time a pitcher has an arm injury it raises a level of concern," said Huntington. "Jameson's been tender here off and on, felt like he could pitch through it, felt like it was just a fall out from his Tommy John Surgery. (It) Finally got to a point where he wanted to get more information, he got the information and finds out he got a flexor strain. On a positive note, the UCL reconstruction is in tact, there's no issues at all with that. So now we are just dealing with a muscle strain and that will take some time to heal and calm down."

The Pirates as a whole were finally starting to get healthy and were "excited to get our injured list down to 9 or 8".

They will look to pitchers like Nick Kingham and Steven Brault to step up and provide quality starts for the starting rotation while Chris Archer and Jameson Taillon recover and return from their injuries.

Huntington hints that there may be a little bit of a "revolving door in this bullpen as we keep it strong and fresh for Clint." And one thing we have learned from this club is that they are resiliant and will fight despite these injuries to key players.

Huntington wants his players to air on the side of caution because "In a perfect world we can take something minor and give it a little bit of rest on the front end and the player gets through it much quicker than an injury or some soreness or something that is minor turns into something more significant."

He's not saying that is what happened in this instance with Taillon, but he prefers players to take every precaution when they feel discomfort so it doesn't turn into something more serious.

Keone Kela left Saturday night's game after facing one batter and Huntington says that "he felt some tightness and had a tough time getting loose" and they will assess again today and determine whether or not he needs a stint on the 10-day IL.

The Pirates activated Kevin Newman from the injured list Saturday and optioned Pablo Reyes back to Indianapolis.

"We love Pablo and especially what he did last September to earn his way to the big leagues," said Huntington. "But, he's in a tough stretch right now and it's really tough for young players on the bench and even tougher for young players on the bench who are struggling to get going."

With the injuries to the piching staff, Huntington wants to give Hurdle the extra arm out of the bullpen and that's why they optioned Reyes down to activate Newman.  And Reyes is going to get a chance to play regularly down at Indianapolis and is going to play almost everywhere down there.

It was a tough decision to designate J.B Shuck for assignment.

"J.B Shuck has done just about everything we could ask for from him off the field, on the field, he's a gamer," said Huntington. "He's a great teammate and those are tough moves because he's a wonderful person. We're hoping that he will stay in the big leagues, which means isn't with us, but if that doesn't happen we would love to keep him in the organization."

Neal and Greg also touch on how the bullpen will be used while starters like Archer and Taillon get back and Brault and Kingham get used as spot starters.  They talk about what they have liked from Kyle Crick, Michael Feliz and wanting to not use Felipe Vasquez for more than three outs if possible.

Huntington says they have explored using an Opener while they have some starters recovering from injuries.

Listen to the entire Neal Huntington Show below and the Neal Huntington Show is on the air an hour before first pitch every Sunday on 93.7 The Fan and the Pirates Radio Network.

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