Gio Gonzalez likely to begin rehab assignment next week

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Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez had no problems during a 35-pitch bullpen session Thursday, so Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that he’ll throw a simulated game Sunday and then hopefully be cleared for a minor-league rehab assignment next week.

Gonzalez has been on the disabled list since May 18 with shoulder inflammation, but now looks to be on track for a mid-June return to the Nationals’ rotation.

Gonzalez posted a 4.62 ERA in nine starts before being shut down, but his secondary numbers were right in line with his career norms and included 53 strikeouts in 51 innings.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.