PITTSBURGH -- The stellar pitching that the Pirates have had so far this season has mitigated the absence of left-hander Phil Dumatrait, who had been expected to play a significant role in the rotation or bullpen before he was set back by a longer-than-expected rehab.
Dumatrait, who had minor arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder last August, was initially expected to be healthy at the start of Spring Training, and therefore would have been in competition for Opening Day roster spot. However, a handful of setbacks kept him from appearing in any Grapefruit League games this spring and landed him on the disabled list at the start of the season.
There's good news for Dumatrait, however, coming out of Bradenton, Fla., where he is working through extended Spring Training. After having to stop his throwing program in January, February and March, Dumatrait has progressed without any issues since beginning to pitch in games.
"He's making good progress," general manager Neal Huntington said. "He hasn't hit that plateau that we had kind of expected him to hit and that he had hit before. He's had no setbacks."
Dumatrait extended himself to a 76-pitch outing on Monday in which he pitched five controlled innings. The Pirates kept the innings controlled so that Dumatrait would not overexert himself in any particular frame.
The Pirates now plan to have Dumatrait make two more outings to push his pitch count into the 85-90 pitch range. These next two starts will also be more realistic for Dumatrait, with the staff not limiting the left-hander's innings workload as tightly as it has so far.
If all goes well in those next two starts, the Pirates will then determine when and where to send Dumatrait for his Minor League rehab stint. Those plans, as well as how many rehab starts might be necessary before he can come off the disabled list, have not yet been determined.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.