Duffy unlikely to play by spring's end

Duffy unlikely to play by spring's end

BRADENTON, Fla. -- With just over two weeks left until the Pirates board a plane for Atlanta, it appears that Chris Duffy's goal of seeing some playing time in games this spring is not going to be met.

While Freddy Sanchez should be ready to return to the field sometime next week, Duffy remains stuck in his rehab work, and if anything, moving a little bit backward.

Duffy had increased his throwing to a distance of about 105 feet a week ago but has since lessened that distance because of persistent pain in his surgically repaired left shoulder.

"Honestly, I don't think in two weeks I've progressed at all," said Duffy, who had surgery on his labrum on Aug. 31. "I don't know why. You'd think that doing all the work that they have you do that it would pay dividends. I'm just running in place. I'm really having trouble."

It's at the point, Duffy said, that he has to focus on making sure that he can throw at the 50- to 60-foot mark pain-free before once again trying to extend that distance.

While Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said that the decision to hold out Duffy for the remainder of the club's Grapefruit League games has not yet been decided, continued discomfort has dictated a longer recovery process than initially anticipated.

Duffy continues to take fielding practice and cuts in the batting cage. However, on Friday, he even admitted to feeling discomfort at times while taking batting practice simply because of the stress that throwing has put on his shoulder.

Doctors have told Duffy that the rehabilitation process can take anywhere from six to nine months and that the discomfort he is experiencing is normal for this type of recovery. Even knowing that, though, has not done much for Duffy's psyche.

"Every day I show up thinking that it is going to be way better," Duffy said. "It's tough to keep convincing yourself why you keep coming and why you're here when it isn't."

Duffy has been out of the Major League roster talk for a while now, but the assumption had been that he would start the season at Triple-A Indianapolis.

However, with questions still surrounding Duffy's rehab schedule, the Pirates may have to consider holding Duffy in Bradenton past the official end of Spring Training before the center fielder returns to the field.

"It's still early, but I think extended Spring Training becomes an option," Huntington said. "The last thing you want to do is push him into a situation [in Triple-A] that he is not physically ready for."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.