Velasquez expected to return this weekend, other Pirates injury news

An update on Wil Crowe and Ji-Man Choi
Vince Velasquez pitching
Photo credit Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – A couple of injured Pirates regulars will return to traveling with the team when they leave for Seattle and a series starting on Friday.

One likely to return this weekend and two others are taking more steps.

Bucs GM Ben Cherington says he anticipates starting pitcher Vince Velasquez should be activated to return to the rotation. If they were to stick with where Velasquez was in the rotation before he was injured, he would replace Luis Ortiz on Sunday against the Mariners.

Officially the Pirates haven’t determined how they would get Velasquez back in the rotation. The right-hander in his first year with the Pirates was on a roll before experiencing right elbow discomfort in his last start in Tampa Bay on May 4. He was 4-3 overall with a 3.06 ERA striking out 34 and walking 13 in 35.1 innings with a 1.16 WHIP and opponents were hitting .211 against him. In his last two full starts, Velasquez had thrown 13 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts to two walks.

“It was obviously encouraging to watch Luis in his last outing,” Cherington said. “How much more in the strike zone he was, attacking. We know what he is capable of doing.”

Ortiz gave up a couple of runs over 7.2 innings in his start on Monday. His previous pair of MLB starts in 2023, he gave up nine runs in eight innings.

Cherington said decisions about who is on the team and who is not are important. They are going to study the different scenarios over the next couple of days.

Wil Crowe

The right-handed reliever has been with the team during his entire time on the injured list. Crowe put on the 60-day injured list on April 23 due to right shoulder discomfort. He started a plyometrics program and should begin a formal throwing program next week. He wouldn’t be eligible to return until the last week of June.

Ji-Man Choi

As Pirates Manager Derek Shelton said on Tuesday, the Bucs first baseman is starting to resume normal activities after dealing with an Achilles strain, really since Spring Training.

“He’s out doing almost all baseball activities,” said Pirates Director of Sports Medicine Todd Tomczyk. “He is fielding ground balls right at him. He’s playing catch. He’s taking batting practice. No issues with any of these activities. We anticipate him beginning some type of running progression next week.”

Choi will travel with the team on the road trip to monitor his progress.

Oneil Cruz

“The wound is healing really good,” Tomczyk said. “The post-op follow-up X-ray (is good). Everything is lining up for Oneil. Over the next 10 to 14 days we will transition him out of the boot.
Then we can really begin to get his strength back. Get his range of motion back and getting him back out to what he loves the most and that’s playing baseball.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports