PITTSBURGH -- Evan Meek was scheduled to throw off the mound on Friday for the first time since being struck in the right hand by a line drive last Sunday. This progress has Meek, who was struck near his pinkie on the back of his hand, eyeing a return in the next few days.
The right-hander has thrown off flat ground each day since Wednesday. The swelling, which was the biggest issue for Meek, has subsided enough to let him grip the ball without much problem.
Though manager John Russell didn't pinpoint an exact return date, he said he expects Meek to be ready to pitch sometime during this homestand. Given that the club still has a seven-man bullpen without Meek available, the Pirates have no intention of rushing the righty's return at the cost of his health.
"Evan is doing well," Russell said. "We'll see how he progresses [on Friday] and see how he comes in [Saturday]. We're [thinking] that he should be back pitching here again sometime soon."
Clement's year could be over after setback
PITTSBURGH -- Manager John Russell said there is a "good chance" that Jeff Clement's season has ended after Clement suffered a left oblique injury while rehabbing his sore left knee.
Clement, who had joined Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, is returning to Pittsburgh to be examined further. A final prognosis on whether Clement has any shot at playing again in 2010 will be made after that exam.
This is the second time in as many years that Clement has been shut down with a left oblique strain. He missed about two weeks with the same injury in August 2009.
Clement's achy knee already had his season in jeopardy. Before leaving the Pirates in Chicago this week, the first baseman mentioned the possibility of surgery if he didn't start noticing any improvement.
If Clement doesn't play again, he'll finish the year with a .201 batting average, seven homers and 21 RBIs in 54 games for the Pirates. Though Clement began the season with an opportunity to seize the job as the team's everyday first baseman, it's unlikely that the 27-year-old is in the Pirates' future plans.
Bucs may call up Lincoln after Minors finale
PITTSBURGH -- Brad Lincoln will start Triple-A Indianapolis final regular-season game on Monday, after which management will determine whether to call up the right-hander for the final four weeks of the season.
After sitting for 12 days with neck soreness, Lincoln returned to the mound on Wednesday. He was scheduled to throw 40-50 pitches in the outing, but lasted only 37 due to a lack of efficiency and effectiveness. In two innings, Lincoln allowed two hits, one walk and two earned runs. He struck out two.
Lincoln, who is not having any recurring issues with his neck, will be able to pitch deeper in Monday's start. If the Pirates do opt to bring Lincoln up after the end of the Minor League season, Lincoln would likely be inserted back into the rotation.
Morgan happy to be back in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- Nyjer Morgan appeared plenty happy to return to Pittsburgh on Friday, just not under the circumstances that trailed him here.
Prior to Friday's game, Major League Baseball handed Morgan an eight-game suspension in response to three recent on-field incidents that involved the former Pirates outfielder. The last of those three events occurred on Wednesday, when Morgan charged the mound after Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad threw behind him. Morgan, who had separated the shoulder of Florida catcher Brett Hayes the night before, had already been hit by a pitch in Wednesday's game.
A benches-clearing fracas ensured, and Morgan was just one of nine players/coaches/managers to be suspended as a result. Morgan's suspension came on the heels of a seven-game suspension -- stemming from throwing a ball at a fan on Aug. 21 -- that he was already appealing.
But because Morgan is appealing both suspensions, he will be in uniform for the Nationals' series against the Pirates all weekend. This marks Morgan's second return to PNC Park since being traded, along with reliever Sean Burnett, last June. The Pirates acquired Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan in that deal.
"I'm just playing the game," Morgan said of the series of plays he was involved in. "I'm just trying to finish the season strong. I'm just trying to show the organization and Nats nation that even though we're getting it handed to us, we're not quitting. I didn't want to roll over for anybody. I was just basically playing my game.
"A lot of people are blowing it up out of proportion."
Though Morgan never had any similar incidents during his time with the Pirates, his hard-nosed, high-energy play was what had made him a teammate and fan favorite. And though not condoning Morgan's actions, the outfielder's intensity doesn't surprise those who know him well.
"He's not afraid to do anything," Andrew McCutchen said. "Anybody would like to have him on his team. He's going to bring 100 percent to the field every day. There's never a dull moment with him. That's the kind of person he is. Even though he might come off as who-knows-what, when he shows up to play, he's ready to play."
Added Pirates manager John Russell: "He plays with a lot of passion and energy. He did that when he was here."
The Pirates will wear a "JLB" patch on the right sleeve of their white home uniforms for the rest of the year to honor former general manager Joe L. Brown. Brown passed away at the age of 91 on Aug. 16. ... John Bowker, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, made his first start for the Pirates. Bowker started in right and batted seventh. On Friday, Indianapolis announced that Bowker had been named the club's Player of the Month for August. Bowker hit .319 with 13 extra-base hits, 10 runs scored and 10 RBIs for the month. ... Pirates Charities and Seven Springs Mountain Resort will hold their second annual Sporting Clays Invitational event on Sept. 20. Additional details on the event can be found at www.pirates.com. ... The Pirates' Class A Advanced affiliate in Bradenton, Fla., entered Friday with a magic number of one to clinch the Florida State League South division's best second-half record. The Marauders have three games to play and hold a two-game lead over Charlotte.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.