Pirates' injured trio takes part in sim game

Pirates' injured trio takes part in sim game

OAKLAND -- The Pirates' injured ace, catcher and veteran took another step toward their eventual returns early Friday afternoon, participating in a simulated game at Oakland Coliseum.

Right-handers Gerrit Cole (on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain) and Ryan Vogelsong (on the 60-day DL while recovering from facial fractures) each threw two innings to Josh Harrison, Adam Frazier and Francisco Cervelli, who tracked pitches but did not swing as he continues to recover from hamate bone surgery.

"I thought it went very well for Gerrit. I thought it went very well for Ryan," manager Clint Hurdle said. "They both looked fresh, threw all their pitches, threw out of the windup, threw out of the stretch."

Cole threw 45 pitches, using his full arsenal and ramping up his intensity "enough to know that we're in a good position to move forward," he said. Cole added he wasn't sure what will come next in his recovery, but he may throw another simulated game next week in St. Louis.

"So far, it's gone really well," Cole said. "We've been able to stay on schedule, which is moving relatively quick."

Vogelsong threw 40 pitches and appears to be on track to return July 23, when he's first eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list. It's been a remarkable recovery for Vogelsong, who was hit in the face by a 92-mph fastball on May 23.

"He's got a history of getting things done on a different timeline than people think they'll get done," Hurdle said. "He pours into everything he does."

Cervelli joked that he "didn't do anything" in the sim game, standing in the batter's box and watching pitches from Cole and Vogelsong. He has been doing catching drills and hopes to get behind the plate on Wednesday.

Cervelli has been taking light swings off soft-toss batting practice pitches. His surgically repaired left hand is still sore, and he needs to build up strength around it before he's ready to hit off higher-velocity pitches.

"When I start playing, it's going to be sore, too. It's something I have to deal with," Cervelli said. "I just need my power back, that's it, then I'll figure out the rest."

Around the horn
Gregory Polanco started in right field Friday night, his first defensive appearance since June 23. Polanco had been limited to pinch-hitting and DH duties by a sore left leg.

• Four players from Double-A Altoona were selected to play in the 2016 Eastern League All-Star Game: Tyler Eppler, Edwin Espinal, Jared Lakind and Harold Ramirez.

Ramirez, the Pirates' No. 7 prospect, is batting .300/.355/.401 in 70 games. Eppler, 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 16 starts, is Pittsburgh's No. 28 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.

• The Pirates signed two undrafted infielders to Minor League contracts on Thursday: Daniel Cucjen, from the University of Alabama, was assigned to Rookie-level Bristol; Nick King, from the University of Georgia, will play for Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

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.