Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez took another few steps in the right direction this week as he continues his recovery from a right quadriceps strain.
According to Jenifer Langosch, beat writer for MLB.com, the young infielder has now played four games at extended spring training in Bradenton, Florida and could be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment early next week.
Alvarez is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list Sunday, but the Pirates will almost certainly ask him to play several games at one of their minor league affiliates before they consider penciling his name back into the big league lineup.
The 24-year-old was batting just .208/.283/.304 with two homers in 36 games before the injury. He clearly needs to get his timing right at the plate, and a week-long stay at Triple-A Indianapolis should do the trick.
The Yankees placed Nestor Cortes on the 15-day injured list with a left rotator cuff strain that will sideline the left-hander for at least two starts.
The move is retroactive to Monday and Cortes will be shut down for at least 15 days.
After Tuesday’s game, Cortes said the shoulder has been bothering him between starts and more so after he pitched five innings May 30 in Seattle.
“I took two days off and when I got to LA and threw that first day, I didn’t feel right,” Cortes said Tuesday. “But it was first day coming back from pitching so I knew it was going to be nagging a little bit. So I waited a little bit.
“That second day in LA was when I said something because it felt like I had pitched yesterday. So I wasn’t recovering in time.”
Cortes is 5-2 with a 5.16 ERA in 11 starts and has particularly struggled later in outings. Opponents are hitting .447 when facing him for the third time in a game.
Last year, Cortes was an All-Star and went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 28 starts.
Randy Vásquez was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre to take Cortes’ spot in the rotation and will make his second career start in Thursday’s doubleheader. Vásquez made his major league debut May 26 against San Diego when the Yankees needed a starter because Domingo Germán was serving a 10-game suspension for using sticky substances.