Snell's Friday start in question

Snell's Friday start in question

PITTSBURGH -- Though MRI exams done on Phil Dumatrait and Ian Snell produced encouraging news on both fronts, it has done nothing to clarify the status of the Pirates rotation beyond Thursday.

One thing is for sure, however. If it were up to Snell, he'd have his spot in the rotation skipped this time around.

"I think I'm going to tell them maybe to give me some more time and let it heal a little bit more -- just be more careful with it," said Snell, whose MRI on Monday revealed medial epicondylitis, more commonly known as golfer's elbow. "As the doctors said, it flared up and has been like that for a while. It is better to be cautious than to go out there."

The earliest Snell would be able to throw would be on Thursday, since the dye injected into his right elbow during Monday's procedure subsequently has his arm shut down for 48 hours. But with rest being the only treatment for Snell's discomfort, the right-hander would like to maximize the recovery period further than that.

While Snell has made his stance clear, manager John Russell hesitated to commit to his rotation plans beyond this current series against the Yankees.

"He's not a definite scratch," Russell said, concerning Snell. "We haven't solidified exactly what we're going to do."

The Pirates are already going to need one spot starter for their next series against the Rays regardless, since Dumatrait (left shoulder tendinitis) will remain on the disabled list until July 5. Snell's injury doubles that need, and management has made it clear that it will look both internally and externally this week as it makes the decision on who to bring up.

If the Pirates do decide to make a callup from within, the options remain plentiful.

John Van Benschoten would have seemed the most likely candidate. However, the right-hander is slated to pitch for Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, meaning that if he were to be needed on Saturday, he'd be pitching on three days' rest. Furthermore, he was also bothered by some right shoulder stiffness in his last start.

Other starters on the 40-man roster who could be considered include Jimmy Barthmaier, Ty Taubenheim, Bryan Bullington and Yoslan Herrera.

As for Snell, his demeanor was noticeably improved two days after his latest disappointing outing. He left Sunday's game after pitching four ineffective innings, marking his second straight four-inning start.

For him, knowing that there was indeed something not right with his arm at least provides some insight into why his velocity has been lower than normal and why the bite on his breaking balls has been missing throughout the year.

"They said I had been pitching like this for a while," Snell said. "It gives an explanation."

And it also ensured him that the pain he felt while pitching on Sunday wasn't a sign of anything more serious being wrong with his pitching arm.

"It's real good news," said Snell, who is 3-7 with a 5.99 ERA this year. "It's better news than I expected."

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