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03/08/09 2:17 PM EST

Moss has bruised right thumb

Pirates right fielder should recover in time for Opening Day

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The initial diagnosis on the injury sustained by outfielder Brandon Moss on Saturday has been downgraded from a sprained right thumb to a bad thumb contusion.

That's encouraging news for the Pirates, who left Fort Myers, Fla., on Saturday not knowing if their starting right fielder was going to be out for a significant amount of time.

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Though the team remains cautiously optimistic that the injury is nothing more serious than a bruise, Moss is flying to Pittsburgh on Sunday so that he can get a second opinion from hand specialist Mark Baratz at Allegheny General Hospital on Monday. Moss is expected to have an MRI performed on his hand as a part of the visit, even though the team does not expect to find a ligament tear.

"Sending Brandon to Pittsburgh [is] just to be overly precautious to make sure we get an early read on if there was any potential strain of the thumb," general manager Neal Huntington said. "At this point in time, we feel like it's precautionary. There is no indication that the significant ligaments in the thumb are damaged in any way. We want to just be safe."

Moss sustained the injury in the second inning of the Pirates' game against the Twins on Saturday as he tried to make a diving catch in right-center field. After Moss made an unsuccessful attempt on the ball, it skipped up and hit him on the outside of the thumb and pushed his thumb back.

The X-rays that Moss had hours after the injury confirmed that there is no bone fracture. Team physician Patrick DeMeo then examined Moss on Sunday morning and diagnosed the injury as a contusion.

If the injury is indeed confirmed to be just a bruise, the timetable for Moss' return will depend on the ensuing pain and Moss' tolerance level. Right now his thumb is significantly swollen, and he'd have to wait for that swelling to reduce before taking any other steps.

Fortunately, the Pirates still stand four weeks away from Opening Day, giving Moss ample time to return to the field before the end of Spring Training in a best-case scenario. Moss has already been penciled in as the Pirates' everyday right fielder to start the year.

"We still have plenty of time," Huntington said. "Much like some of the other guys, we're taking it ultra-conservatively as we have the extra week this year."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.