Ke’Bryan Hayes set for Minor League rehab assignment

Ke’Bryan Hayes’ long-awaited return to game action — at the Minor League level, for the time being — is upon us.

Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday that Hayes, the No. 9 overall prospect in baseball, will begin a rehab assignment “in the next day or so” with Triple-A Indianapolis, which is on the road in St. Paul, Minn.

“All things are very encouraging signs with Ke’Bryan,” Tomczyk said. “He’s gonna go out and play some baseball and get a game workload with the Indians club and then we’ll make a decision after that.”

Tomczyk said that Hayes played in a simulated game Wednesday with the Major League club, and manager Derek Shelton said that his third baseman came out of that outing with high spirits.

“When we talked to him after the simulated game, he was excited to get out and start playing and get back to being our third baseman,” Shelton said. “I think his level of excitement is high.”

Hayes, who was transferred to the 60-day injured list after initially being placed on the 10-day IL on April 4, will not be able to return to Major League action until June 3. That means that he’ll see plenty of games with the Indians, and Shelton said that’s crucial to make sure that he’s at peak physical condition beyond just his injured left wrist.

“We have to make sure that we build in the days that he needs to play,” Shelton said. “There will probably be days that he DHs and just hits. But we have to get him back in baseball shape.”

The preseason favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Hayes hit .376/.442/.682 with 14 extra-base hits in 24 games last season, so he would be a boost to an offense that has struggled to find consistency without some of its key players.

Here are some other injury updates from Tomczyk.

• Colin Moran (left groin strain) has not begun running the bases yet, per Tomczyk, but he has done fielding work, played catch and swung a bat. Running is one of the key components to Moran being deemed ready to play, as well as fielding “at multiple different angles.”

• Phillip Evans (left hamstring strain) is running on flat ground, Tomczyk said. The Pirates’ main super utility player injured his hamstring going from first to second base on a base hit by Gregory Polanco on May 12.

Tomczyk said that Evans is “a little ahead” of Moran in terms of running progression at the moment.

• Chad Kuhl (right shoulder discomfort) began his rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis, starting for the Indians on Wednesday. Tomczyk said that assessing how Kuhl does goes beyond just health considerations, though those are first and foremost.

“The player’s an important factor in that — in how he feels, not only from a physical standpoint, but how his stuff is playing,” Tomczyk said.

• Steven Brault, who has not pitched this season after sustaining a lat injury in Spring Training, is throwing at 60-70 feet, Tomczyk said.

“He’s responded well to that initial workload,” Tomczyk said, “so he will continue to build up the volume of flat ground work down with the Bradenton group.”

• Travis Swaggerty injured his right shoulder in a game with Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, Tomczyk confirmed. Swaggerty, the Pirates’ No. 9 prospect, jammed his shoulder diving back to first base, and the club’s medical team wants to evaluate him before setting a specific outlook for his recovery.

“We’re going to learn more. We’re going to take the opportunity for our physicians to get their hands on him,” Tomczyk said, “but I would forecast that this is going to be longer than seven days.”

• Liover Peguero, who sustained a right knee contusion last week while attempting to steal a base with High-A Greensboro, is still out of action, Tomczyk confirmed. Peguero, the club’s No. 5 prospect, recently began running again, but he showed a slight limp after one session and the Pirates have decided to slow him down.

“We’re taking a different approach and making sure the injury — the contusion from the knee — doesn’t turn into other soft-tissue injuries because of the altered running mechanics,” Tomczyk said. “We’re taking it a little bit slower, but that doesn’t suggest anything that’s long term.”

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