Improving health key for Bucs

PITTSBURGH — Teams that aren’t headed for the postseason are making plans for the offseason.

So it is for the Pirates, who are sorting out which players are going to play winter ball and which ones will spend part of their time rehabbing from injuries.

One of the big projects for the Pirates will be getting catcher Francisco Cervelli ready for a productive 2017 season. Cervelli was officially shut down on Monday after the staff determined there wasn’t enough time for him to recover from a left quad injury that put him on the disabled list on Aug. 26.

“He is not in a good spot physically to head into the off-season,” head trainer Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday afternoon.

Tomczyk said the training staff is preparing an off-season program for Cervelli that will address nutrition and what Tomczyk called “whole body healing,” which he explained as, “mind, body, heart. All of that.”

Cervelli was limited to 81 games this season by a variety of injuries. That was his low total in three seasons with the Pirates.

In other news from the weekly training room report, Tomczyk said Josh Harrison is about three to four weeks from having a splint removed from his broken left hand. Harrison’s recovery is on schedule, according to Tomczyk.

Winter ball plans are being complicated by the uncertain political climate in Venezuela, a favorite destination for many players.

“As we get closer, we’ll know more,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “If they can’t play, and there’s no league, then we’ll look at option B.”

Venezuela native Jose Osuna hopes to play there this winter to get work at third base.

Osuna has been working out at third base in pre-game drills for a good part of this season. The Pirates would like him to get some work during the winter and in spring training to see if he might be a viable option at third.

Who to play?

With the Pirates out of the race, they’re using September as a chance to look at some young players.

But they can’t overdo that while they’re playing teams like Milwaukee and St. Louis, who are still in contention.

“We definitely walk that line,” Hurdle said. “We’ve been representative of the game, representative of the organization.”

Hurdle said that Starling Marte recently missed some games because of injuries.

“You can’t play a guy who can’t play,” Hurdle said.

He also noted that the rest of the lineup either is influenced by injuries or sticks to patterns of scheduled days off that have been established over the season.

The Pirates still have series against Baltimore and Washington remaining. Hurdle said Jacob Stallings will get a start at catcher before the season ends.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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