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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

As rehab appearances mount, decision time for Guardians pitchers draws near

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Decision time will be here soon for at least two of the three Guardians pitchers on rehab assignments in the minor leagues.

Triston McKenzie, eligible to be activated Monday, threw 4 1/3 innings for Class AAA Columbus on Thursday. He allowed four runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out six and threw 66% of his pitches (42 for 64) for strikes.

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McKenzie said he’ll make his next start Tuesday after throwing a bullpen session on Saturday.

It could be just a coincidence, but Tuesday the Guardians are in Baltimore for the second game of a three-game series against the Orioles. McKenzie is eligible to come off the injured list on Monday.

The Guardians could also decide to give McKenzie another rehab start as he builds toward 85 to 100 pitches. Two of the six hits McKenzie allowed Thursday were home runs by Aaron Shackleford of the Indianapolis Indians, the top Pirates farm club.

“I was set to go four innings and went a little longer,” said McKenzie. “I felt good the whole time. I felt I came out of the gate shooting. I was able to move my heater around and use my off-speed. It felt good.”

McKenzie strained the right teres major muscle in his shoulder during his last spring training start and has been working his way back since.

Aaron Civale will make his third rehab start Sunday at Columbus. Civale made two starts for the Guardians before going on the injured list with a strained left oblique.

Cody Morris made his first rehab appearance, throwing a scoreless inning for Akron on Wednesday. He struck out one, while throwing 11 pitches.

He’s scheduled to pitch for Akron again on Sunday before joining Columbus.

“I felt good,” said Morris, recovering from a right teres major injury. “There was no pain and that’s always a good sign.”

Morris said there still hasn’t been a decision on whether he’ll be used as a starter or reliever.

The Guardians currently have three rookies in the rotation — Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen and Hunter Gaddis. The openings were created by the injuries to McKenzie and Civale and the demotion of Zach Plesac.

With McKenzie and Civale getting close to being activated, the rotation is going to undergo some changes. Who goes and who stays will be determined in the days ahead.

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