After numerous delays Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly is finally on the verge of coming back from a hamstring injury that’s sidelined him since mid-April.
Kelly tossed 41 pitches in a minor-league rehab outing at Triple-A over the weekend, allowing two runs in two innings in his first game action in months.
As of June 16 general manager John Mozeliak said that Kelly was “two or three weeks” from rejoining the Cardinals. That timetable now seems overly optimistic, but he’s finally making actual progress and seemingly could be ready by mid-July.
Kelly had a 0.59 ERA in three starts before the injury and for his career the 26-year-old has posted a 2.83 ERA in 34 starts, which is essentially one full season’s worth of time in a rotation.
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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.