PITTSBURHG (KDKA) — One Pirates pitcher will make his season debut Friday after recovering from injury, while another is on his way out after failing to recover from a slow start.
Right-hander Joe Musgrove was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list after rehabilitating from a shoulder injury he suffered in Spring Training. Musgrove will start on the mound tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I can’t wait to watch him pitch,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “He’s a very focused, determined young man that’s had to hit ‘pause’ way longer than he wanted to. He had to go through Spring Training again, basically.”
Musgrove was expected to start in the opening week of the season, but was then sent to the disabled list after a minor league Spring Training start in late March. He struck out 17 batters in 17.1 innings during four rehab starts between Single-A Bradenton, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.
“It’s his time,” Hurdle said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch. I think his teammates are looking forward to seeing him pitch, and he’s looking forward to helping us compete and win games.”
“He’s a competitor out there,” said rookie third baseman Colin Moran, a teammate of his with the Houston Astros before both came to Pittsburgh in the Gerrit Cole trade in January. “He’s someone you love playing behind, he’s just someone you want on your team. He’s going to attack the zone, be aggressive and he comes at you.”
To make room for Musgrove on the Pirates’ 25-man roster, reliever George Kontos was designated for assignment. Kontos made 21 appearances this season, allowing 12 runs with only nine strikeouts in 19.2 innings, good for a 5.03 ERA.
“George has not been able to replicate the level of performance that we saw from him last year,” Hurdle said. “Unfortunately, the game demands execution, and right now that level for him isn’t where it’s been for him at any other point in time in his career.”
“I haven’t been able to get my delivery where it needed to be,” Kontos said. “Just some things that weren’t characteristic of myself and what I’m capable of doing.”
Kontos has pitched for three teams in his major league career. He was a member of the bullpen with the San Francisco Giants during their World Series championship seasons in 2012 and 2014.
“I haven’t forgotten how to play baseball,” he said. “I’m still a competitor and I still have a lot left in this game, so I would imagine, hopefully, somebody takes a shot on a guy whose been around a little bit, knows how to pitch and has had, in my opinion, quite a bit of success in the big leagues.”
With the removal of Kontos, the Pirates’ bullpen now has the standard seven pitchers, as opposed to the eight they used to start the season.
The Pirates’ starting lineup:
1. Josh Harrison, 2nd Base
2. Gregory Polanco, Right Field
3. Francisco Cervelli, Catcher
4. Josh Bell, 1st Base
5. Corey Dickerson, Left Field
6. Colin Moran, 3rd Base
7. Austin Meadows, Center Field
8. Jordy Mercer, Shortstop
9. Joe Musgrove, Pitcher