Pirates may get Nicasio back this week

Pirates may get Nicasio back this week

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Juan Nicasio, on the restricted list while attending to an undisclosed personal issue, could rejoin the Pirates pitching staff later this week.

Manager Clint Hurdle said Nicasio, who left the club Saturday and headed home to the Dominican Republic, will be back "sooner than later." General manager Neal Huntington said Nicasio's return may come later this week, and it's too early to say whether he'll be ready to pitch when his next scheduled turn in the rotation comes up Sunday.

"We'll have to see where we are at that point in time and where he is," Huntington said.

Since Nicasio likely hasn't been throwing while at home, he'll have to work in the bullpen to be ready for his next appearance.

"We're going to take this one day at a time," Hurdle said.

Nicasio, 29, is 5-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 12 starts this season. Tuesday would have been Nicasio's scheduled day to start, so the Pirates called up right-hander Wilfredo Boscan from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Given Nicasio's performance, his success as a reliever last year and the fact that he's surpassed his 2015 innings total, the Pirates could choose to send Nicasio to the bullpen when he returns. However, that would leave them with four full-time starters (Francisco Liriano, Jonathon Niese, Jeff Locke and Jameson Taillon) until right-hander Gerrit Cole (strained right triceps) rejoins the rotation.

Around the horn
• Catcher Chris Stewart, sitting out with a sore left knee, went through a full pregame workout Tuesday afternoon. With the Pirates short on position players late in Tuesday's 15-4 loss to the Giants, Stewart pinch-hit in the eighth inning, reached first base on an error and scored on David Freese's two-run homer.

Stewart hadn't been able to play since Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

"There's a lot of things that happened here, man. You just push your chips in," Hurdle said after the game. "We thought we'd run him out there and see. The workout went well, so we thought we'd get him out there and see if he could move laterally at first base before we stick him behind the plate. Obviously I don't think we're looking to beat any infield hits out."

The Pirates are carrying three catchers on their roster: Stewart, Erik Kratz and Jacob Stallings. All three made it into Tuesday's game at the same time. After scoring in the eighth, Stewart remained in the game to play first base, while Kratz pitched the ninth inning, his second pitching appearance of the season, with Stallings behind the plate.

• Catcher Francisco Cervelli (hamate bone surgery) threw in the outfield Tuesday afternoon but did not receive throws. Cole played catch for the third straight day.

• Pitching coach Ray Searage, who left PNC Park early Monday due to back spasms and arthritis in his left wrist, was back with the club Tuesday.

• The Pirates signed three more Draft picks Tuesday, bringing their total to 26 out of 41 overall selections: 21st-round right-hander Matt Eckelman from St. Louis University, 26th-round righty Robbie Coursel from Florida Atlantic University and 35th-round righty Pasquale Mazzoccoli from Texas State University.

All three players will begin their professional careers with Rookie-level Bristol.

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