Harrison, Mercer set to start rehab assignments at Triple-A on Tuesday
By John McGonigal
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett started light throwing Saturday, injured infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer are expected to start rehab assignments Tuesday, and relief pitcher Rob Scahill (right forearm tightness) will report to Pirates trainers Monday before throwing three innings for Double-A Altoona the following day.
Burnett (right flexor strain) was placed on the 15-day disabled list last week after undergoing an MRI and receiving a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Monday.
When diagnosed, it was expected that Burnett, who also threw Sunday, would miss approximately four weeks.
"So far, so good," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Meanwhile, Harrison (torn thumb ligaments) and Mercer (left MCL sprain) are set to get reps at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Mercer will likely take a longer rehab assignment than Harrison, but it's somewhat of a surprise that the shortstop progressed this swiftly in the first place. Originally, Hurdle thought Mercer would start his rehab assignment on Thursday or Friday.
"I basically hit every bulletin there is to hit," Mercer said. "I've had no setbacks. I've done everything that I wanted to accomplish for myself before I left here. I know it's going to take time when I get there. ... It's going to be good to get back out there and start playing again."
Mercer was placed on the 15-day DL on July 20 after colliding with former Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez, who was sliding into second base.
The 28-year-old, who will temporarily play with a brace, said while his knee has responded better than expected, getting comfortable moving laterally without thinking about it will be a process.
"You just want to go out and play and not worry about it," Mercer said. "It's going to take time for that, for sure."
Around the horn
• The Pirates are still awaiting word whether right-hander Vance Worley will accept his outright assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis or decline it and seek a job elsewhere. Worley was designated for assignment when the Pirates acquired Joe Blanton from the Royals.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said both sides are "getting near the end of" the timeframe for Worley to make his decision.
"We've made it clear that we would love him to stay here," Huntington said. "Our plan is to send him to Indianapolis, get him stretched out so that he's a viable option out of the rotation. And we may need that."
• Shortstop Cole Tucker, the Pirates' first-round Draft pick last year, was placed on Class A West Virginia's disabled list Sunday. Huntington said Tucker, the Bucs' No. 10 prospect, has been dealing with "shoulder discomfort."
Tucker was seen by the Pirates' medical staff and will receive a second opinion before Pittsburgh discloses any further information.
• To fill Tucker's spot, the Pirates promoted shortstop Kevin Newman, their first-round pick in this year's Draft, to West Virginia.
"Felt like it was a natural transition for him to step into that next level," Huntington said of Newman, the Pirates' No. 8 prospect. "Look forward to him going up there and playing well."
John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.