Cervelli, Jaso still on the mend

Pirates catcher, first baseman expect to return to lineup soon

Cervelli, Jaso still on the mend

LOS ANGELES -- Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli and first baseman John Jaso weren't healthy enough to start Friday night at Dodger Stadium, but both could return to the lineup soon.

Cervelli left Wednesday's game early and didn't play Thursday due to left wrist soreness, a byproduct of the surgery he had in June to repair a fractured hamate bone. He hit in the indoor batting cage at Dodger Stadium on Friday, took batting practice on the field and went through catching drills.

Manager Clint Hurdle hoped Cervelli would be available off the bench in the Pirates' series opener against the Dodgers.

"Cervelli's making progress," Hurdle said. "He reported feeling better today."

Catching prospect Elias Diaz, who joined the team Thursday (but was not added to the roster) just in case Cervelli's injury was more serious, traveled with the Pirates to Los Angeles. But he was packing up a duffel bag Friday afternoon and will likely return to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Backup catcher Eric Fryer started behind the plate for the Pirates on Friday. If Cervelli is unable to play and Fryer leaves the game, Sean Rodriguez -- the emergency third catcher each of the last two years -- could be called into action.

Rodriguez started at first base Friday for the second game in a row, as Jaso was still too sore to play a full game on defense after a collision at home plate Tuesday night. Jaso was unavailable Wednesday, could have pinch-hit Thursday, if necessary and flied out to shallow center field in a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh inning Friday night.

"Jaso is doing better," Hurdle said. "He was better [Thursday] than he was the day before. ... The swing was in play. Still the flexibility and agility to field ground balls was a little bit compromised, so we'll see how that comes along."

Around the horn

• Catcher Chris Stewart (left knee pain) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona on Friday night. Stewart hit eighth and caught right-hander Clay Holmes, the Pirates' No. 12 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.

Stewart caught seven innings, as scheduled, and went 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI. He is expected to get a day off Saturday and perhaps play again Sunday as the Bucs monitor his knee and ease him back into action.

• The Pirates finished 10-10 in their recent 20-game stretch against the Mariners and five sub-.500 teams. Their schedule will ramp up in difficulty over the next two weeks, as they'll face the National League Wild Card-leading Dodgers and NL West-leading Giants on the road followed by the Marlins (second in the NL Wild Card standings) and Astros (60-55) at home.

• This six-game swing through Los Angeles and San Francisco is the Pirates' wives' trip. Hurdle, his wife, Karla, video coordinator Kevin Roach and his wife, Heather, plan to attend an Adele concert in downtown Los Angeles this weekend.

"We're going to be in the front row," Hurdle said, smiling as he leaned back in his desk chair. "Oh, yeah. We're not messing around."

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.