Duke throws 40 pitches off flat ground

Duke throws 40 pitches off flat ground

CHICAGO -- Zach Duke threw 40 pitches off flat ground on Monday, the second straight day he has tested his arm out throwing. Duke (left elbow flexor pronator strain) threw 25 pitches in Oakland on Sunday.

If everything continues to progress as expected, Duke is scheduled to throw off the mound for the first time on Friday. He'll likely need at least two side sessions before making a Minor League rehab start.

With this schedule, it doesn't appear that Duke will be ready to return after just one more missed start. He had already been ruled out to pitch on July 1, but the Pirates had been holding out hope that he'd be back in the rotation the next time through. That appears unlikely.

The good news, though, is that Duke has continued to report improvements with his elbow.

"It feels good," he said on Monday. "I'm right on track. Just playing catch, easing back into that."