PITTSBURGH -- Ross Ohlendorf will take the next big step in his rehab process on Wednesday, when he steps on the mound for the first time since leaving his April 8 start with a right shoulder strain.
Ohlendorf, who has been on the disabled list since that April 8 outing, has been throwing on flat ground for little over a week. He extended himself out to 120 feet on Tuesday, marking the last checkpoint in that phase. Now, it's to the mound, where Ohlendorf will throw two or three bullpen sessions during the next week.
Assuming all goes well, the right-hander will follow that up by throwing live batting practice and then heading off on a Minor League rehab assignment. That assignment could last one or two starts.
"It's feeling really good," Ohlendorf said. "It wasn't as bad as [a similar injury] last year."
Ohlendorf is still targeting a mid-May return to the Pirates' rotation. In the meantime, his starting spot will continue to be filled by Jeff Karstens, who is scheduled to make his third spot start on Thursday.
Pirates claim outfielder Paul off waivers
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have made their second waiver claim in a week, taking outfielder Xavier Paul from the Dodgers on Tuesday. The Pirates added Paul to the 40-man roster by moving Scott Olsen from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Olsen has been in extended spring training trying to build up arm strength.
Paul must also be put on the 25-man roster when he reports to Pittsburgh. The Pirates will wait until Paul gets here before making a corresponding roster move. Given that Paul is an outfielder, it would seem that either Steve Pearce or John Bowker will be sent down. Pearce has an option left, meaning the Pirates could send him to Triple-A. Bowker, on the other hand, does not. The absence of an option could work in Bowker's favor.
Paul has played in parts of three seasons with the Dodgers, accruing 146 at-bats and a .233 batting average. His only home run came in 2009. After making Los Angeles' Opening Day roster this year, Paul had three singles in 11 at-bats.
"We like the overall package and that package is what has allowed him to have success at the Minor League level," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "Our challenge is to help him get over that next big hurdle. A lack of consistent playing time is a challenge for nearly any young player, and 160 Major League plate appearances is a small sample size. We have some thoughts as to how we can help Xavier, but we want to allow him to settle into his new environment and gain a comfort level before we begin to look to make adjustments."
A fourth-round Draft pick in 2003, Paul played all three outfield positions in the Minors. In 203 Triple-A games, Paul batted .320 with 58 doubles, 23 homers and 32 stolen bases. He has enough speed to be a viable option as a pinch-runner for manager Clint Hurdle, who hasn't had a lot of speed to work with on his bench.
Paul has 72 hours to report to the club, meaning that he could join the Pirates as late as Friday. The team is in Pittsburgh through Thursday before beginning a six-game road trip through Colorado and San Diego.
Right-hander Jose Ascanio returned to the mound for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday, just four days after being struck in the head by a line drive. Ascanio, who is on a Minor League rehab assignment, allowed four earned runs on two hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.
Infielder Brock Holt and outfielder Starling Marte both had four hits in Double-A Altoona's 8-7 win on Monday night. Hitting in the top two spots in the lineup, the pair scored four runs and drove in two. Marte has hit safely in 13 consecutive games and entered Tuesday with an Eastern League-best 25 hits.
Interestingly enough, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle were opponents all the way back to their high school days. Bochy, who was two years older than Hurdle, played for Melbourne (Fla.) High School, while Hurdle attended Merritt Island High School. So who was the better player? "He was pretty good," Hurdle said. "I was pretty good. I don't know who was better. The careers are somewhat similar. We just always respected each other from afar. We played on the same [American] Legion team one year. He's definitely managed longer than I have."
With six saves in as many opportunities this season, Joel Hanrahan is the first Pirates closer to earn that many saves in April since Solomon Torres saved eight games in April 2007.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.