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02/23/10 3:08 PM EST

MRI on Hanrahan's elbow encouraging

Bucs reliever continues to be shut down from throwing

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates received encouraging news about Joel Hanrahan following the right-hander's MRI on Tuesday.

According to general manager Neal Huntington, the MRI showed that much of the inflammation in Hanrahan's right elbow had dissipated. It also confirmed earlier tests that revealed no structural damage.

Hanrahan, who had been diagnosed with a flexor-pronator strain, is still scheduled to follow up with a visit to orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Thursday for an additional opinion. It will be after that meeting when the Pirates will begin planning a return-to-pitch program for Hanrahan. The right-hander remains shut down from throwing for the time being.

Though Hanrahan is still expected to begin the season on the disabled list, the current diagnosis suggests that he might not have to sit out for that long. After posting a 1.72 ERA in 33 appearances for Pittsburgh last season, he is expected to serve as one of the Pirates' primary late-inning setup options.

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