BRADENTON, Fla. -- Lefty Scott Olsen has much to prove this spring in his efforts to win a spot in the Pirates' Opening Day rotation. His urgency to prove he's healthy, however, will not outweigh the club's desire to be cautious when it comes to his spring workload.
Given the issues that have plagued Olsen's left shoulder the last two years, he and the Pirates sat down in December to formulate a plan as to how he would build up his arm to get ready for the season. The consensus was to take things a little slower than he had in the past.
Olsen has thrown off the mound just three times so far, and his fourth session is scheduled to come on Wednesday. He reported that he has had no discomfort with his shoulder thus far.
"I'm hoping that everything stays healthy and that we can progress in the right direction," Olson said. "We haven't had any setbacks. No issues. It's early, and we're taking the proper steps and precautions that we need to take."
The delayed progression will not affect Olsen's ability to compete for that rotation spot. He will still be able to log a sufficient number of innings in Grapefruit League play, assuming, of course, that there are no more setbacks with his shoulder. Olsen and Charlie Morton appear to be the front-runners for the final rotation opening.
"He feels he's in a good place right now," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're not pushing him, but we're not backing off. He's taking on what he can take on day by day. He's very upbeat with where he is right now as far as Spring Training being two days old."
Hart's return to the mound a slow process
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Kevin Hart has resumed throwing after a 10-day layoff that was prompted by inflammation in his right shoulder. He is still not ready to throw off the mound, but he did spend a considerable amount of time long tossing before workouts got under way on Tuesday.
Hart's progression back to the mound will be dictated mostly by the way he feels. Hart, who underwent season-ending surgery on the shoulder last May, estimated that he had thrown six or seven times before feeling a bit of discomfort.
Hart was re-examined recently by Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, and nothing was found to be structurally wrong. Such inflammation is common for pitchers building back their arm strength after such a procedure, and Hart was given a cortisone shot to help reduce the inflammation.
"Everyone that I've talked to who had the surgery says it is normal to have this type of issue," Hart said. "They seem to think that it's something that 10 days off could really resolve. It sounds really simple to think about, but when you don't throw for four months and then start cranking it up, there are going to be some times when some tightness starts creeping in."
Hart remains optimistic that he will have time to be ready to pitch at the start of the season, though such a timetable would require that he have no more setbacks.
"We're not going to just chuck him on the mound and get him back where he was before," pitching coach Ray Searage said. "We're going to take one day at a time with him and see what his body tells us and where we can go."
New pitching coach Searage making changes
BRADENTON, Fla. -- There's a new pitching coach running things this spring, and Ray Searage has already made some changes.
Searage is no stranger around Pirate City, having been in the organization for nine seasons. This, however, is the first year that he has arrived with the title of Major League pitching coach and with the responsibility of supervising all the pitching programs.
Gone are the strings that former pitching coach Joe Kerrigan used to hang above the plate to give the pitchers a target. Searage saw the concept as too elementary for pitchers at this level.
"Basically, what you have to do is, you have to get the ball down," Searage said. "If any of the pitchers need visuals on how to keep the ball down, they need to go back to the Minor Leagues. This is the 'can do' league."
The dummy batters, which Kerrigan regularly used during side sessions, have yet to make an appearance. Kerrigan implemented the dummies in his efforts to get the pitchers more comfortable pitching inside. Searage said they still might be pulled out, but only occasionally, and for specialty work.
The team is only two days into Spring Training, but Searage was not shy in expressing how he feels the work has gone so far.
"The last two days of what I've seen of everybody, I'm happy. I'm real happy," he said. "Not that I'm going to go out and buy a case of champagne, but I'm very happy with the progression that transpired during the winter program."
Seventeen pitchers took the bullpen mound on Tuesday to throw their first Spring Training side sessions. Another 14 had gone through their program the day before. Three of the pitchers who threw on Tuesday -- Tyler Yates, Evan Meek and Michael Crotta -- made an especially good impression with Searage.
"[Yates] is so far ahead of everybody else, it's unbelievable," Searage said. "It looks like he can pitch tomorrow."
And of Meek: "That was the best 'pen I've ever seen out of Meek. Good gosh, it was solid."
Sanguillen inducted into Latino Hall of Fame
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Former catcher Manny Sanguillen is the latest member of the Pirates family to be inducted into a hall of fame.
Sanguillen, who is with the Pirates this spring to work with catchers, traveled to the Dominican Republic last week to be honored as one of seven 2011 inductees into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame. The hall of fame, which is in the city of La Romana, inducted its first class last year. Roberto Clemente was in the initial wave of inductees.
"It was nice," Sanguillen said of Saturday's ceremony. "I was really happy. I thank God for everything, especially for Roberto Clemente, who helped me to become the baseball player that I was."
Joining Sanguillen as a hall of fame member were Edgar Martinez, Fernando Valenzuela, Luis Tiant, Dennis Martinez, Rico Carty and Andres Galarraga.
Heredia savoring the sights of big league camp
BRADENTON, Fla. -- At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, pitching prospect Luis Heredia is not going to blend in anywhere he goes. He tried his best on Tuesday, however, as he roamed around the fields at Pirate City as would any other spectator who had come to watch Clint Hurdle run his second day of Spring Training.
Heredia, the 16-year-old Mexican right-hander whom the organization signed for $2.6 million last August, asked the Pirates if he could observe the Major Leaguers going through their morning workouts. Management gladly obliged.
"I like watching the team," Heredia said afterward. "I like the guys. I feel good. I am excited."
Heredia spent the fall pitching in both the Florida and Dominican instructional leagues. He returned to Florida in January to resume his throwing program and is rooming in the dorms at Pirate City. He threw long toss on Tuesday after the Major League workouts were over, and he is scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday.
"He was very strong today," general manager Neal Huntington said. "His throwing program has been very similar to all our first-year pitchers at a similar stage to him."
Though Heredia will not turn 17 until August, the Pirates have targeted the Gulf Coast League as the place where he will begin pitching professionally this season. That season begins in June.
Add Lyle Overbay to the list of position players who have arrived in advance of Friday's official report date. Overbay arrived at Pirate City early on Tuesday and went through defensive work and batting practice with his new teammates. ... With Overbay's arrival, the Pirates have 15 of their 21 position players (not including catchers) in camp. All position players must report before the end of the day on Friday. ... Though Donnie Veal (left elbow surgery) is still limited in his workload, the lefty did throw a supervised bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon. He will not be far enough advanced to start the season on a roster.
Langosch: Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.