Pirates easing Dotel, Donnelly into spring routine

BY foxsports • February 24, 2010

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Octavio Dotel is off to a slower start than he expected at spring training.

Dotel strained a muscle on the left side of his upper body Sunday while throwing a bullpen session. The injury is not considered serious, but Dotel has been shut down for a few days as a precaution.

The 36-year-old Dotel has pitched a total of 160 innings over the past three years. The Pirates signed the oft-injured pitcher in the offseason.

``It's good that it wasn't a big pop or a snap or anything,'' manager John Russell said Wednesday. ``It's better it happened now than later in camp. There are no concerns he won't be ready for the season.''

The Pirates already had planned on taking it easy with their new closer. Like Dotel, right-hander Brendan Donnelly also will be eased into his spring workload.

``They know they have to get their arm conditioned first, and with an older guy it usually takes until the last couple of weeks of spring training,'' pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said.

The 38-year-old Donnelly had been slated to toss one, 25-pitch ``inning'' of batting practice on Thursday, but that plan was scratched. Instead, he'll throw a bullpen session.

The other pitchers in camp each are throwing two innings of batting practice, for a maximum of 34 pitches.

``Don't look for me to throw 100 pitches,'' Donnelly said, grinning. ``If you do, call 911.''

Once the exhibition games begin next week, Dotel and Donnelly also will get special treatment.

``We'll maybe pitch them in the fifth or sixth game, space them out the first couple of weeks and rest them between,'' Kerrigan said. ``The key is to get them locked into their routine for the last 10 or 12 games. Don't peak too early.''

Donnelly said he prefers to do most of his spring work on the side and make just six or eight game outings.

``It's a natural progression,'' Donnelly said. ``I'm trying to get my timing down. I was dialed in during my bullpens before I got here, but now there's another gear you have to get to. When you start the season, there's another gear, and then another in October (for the playoffs).''

Dotel hopes to pitch in at least 10 to 12 spring games.

``You can't have less than that,'' Dotel said. ``If you do, you won't be ready.''

This past offseason, Dotel began his workouts November, a month earlier than usual. The reason, he said, is he knows his age is catching up to him.

Plus, after spending the past two years as a setup man for the Chicago White Sox, Dotel is eager to prove he still can handle the ninth inning.

``Usually, May is when I start pitching my best,'' Dotel said. ``I don't want to do that this year. I want to be ready April 5.''

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