Injured Pirates prospects working way back

Kang likely won't be 100 percent until next season; rainout deprives fans of Wild rematch

Injured Pirates prospects working way back

CINCINNATI -- A handful of injured Pirates pitching prospects are on the mend.

Right-hander Nick Kingham, the Pirates' No. 12 prospect, began throwing live batting practice earlier this week. It was the first time Kingham, 24, faced live hitters since undergoing Tommy John surgery late last May. He is scheduled to throw another live BP session later this week.

Right-hander Trevor Williams, Pittsburgh's No. 24 prospect, is working at extended spring camp, working his arm back into game shape. The 24-year-old left his first start of the season due to right shoulder inflammation.

Left-hander Steven Brault is on the seven-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain, an injury suffered while running the bases in Triple-A. The Bucs' No. 17 prospect isn't expected to need surgery but likely will sit out more than a week or two.

"We're going to hit a pause in his throwing," head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said. "As soon as the leg is ready to compete and throw again, we're going to get him [back] as fast as we can."

Left-hander Cory Luebke, on a Minor League rehab assignment following a bout of right hamstring tightness, was scheduled to pitch an inning in Triple-A on Wednesday night. Luebke is working on back-to-back days and has thrown up to three innings, typically signs that a pitcher is nearing a return.

Luebke strikes out two in relief

Kang's gait
Over the weekend, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Jung Ho Kang's running may not be back to "100 percent" normal until next season due to the severity of his left knee injuries.

Kang returned to the Pirates on Friday, approximately 7 1/2 months after surgery to repair a fractured tibia and torn meniscus, and hit two homers in his season debut.

"To expect him to come back 100 percent from this injury right away -- whether right away means now, July, August -- it's still evolving," Tomczyk said. "He's functional enough to be a competitive Major Leaguer and a contributor to help us win games."

Must C: Kang blasts two in debut

'Burgh Proud
Tuesday's rainout at Great American Ball Park gave the Pirates an early night off. Several players and coaches, including Hurdle, took advantage of the opportunity to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in overtime.

With that thrilling win, the Penguins advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Psyched for the Pens," said Hurdle, who spoke to Penguins president David Morehouse on Wednesday. "They've been fun to watch."

Change of plans
Another side effect of the postponed game? We will no longer see Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta square off in a Wild Card Game rematch this weekend.

Cole, who had been slated to pitch Saturday, will start Sunday's series finale at Wrigley Field against Cubs lefty Jon Lester. Left-hander Jeff Locke will start Saturday's game against Arrieta.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.