Injuries forcing Bucs to face roster decisions

Marte progressing, could avoid DL stint for ailing side

Injuries forcing Bucs to face roster decisions

PITTSBURGH -- Injuries incurred this week by Josh Harrison and Starling Marte fall into different categories but do share something in common: They've both got Pirates brass assessing the level of response.

Marte's sore left side responded favorably to comprehensive pregame tests Thursday, so the Pirates apparently ruled out having him placed on the disabled list to accommodate a reinforcement for the final three games of the ongoing series with the Cardinals.

"He was much improved," manager Clint Hurdle said following the Pirates' 4-1 loss to the Cardinals at PNC Park.

Hurdle declined to elaborate whether Marte's condition had improved enough to return him to the starting lineup. A determination on that would not be possible until the outfielder goes through additional tests prior to Friday night's game.

The loss of Harrison, already sentenced to a lengthy absence with left thumb surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament, may prompt the club to be more proactive than originally anticipated prior to the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Marte, removed mid-at-bat in the fourth inning of Sunday's game, took the field early Thursday to attempt drills under the watch of trainer Todd Tomczyk and co-bench coach Dave Jauss, then tried the indoor batting cage.

"We put him through a battery of tests [Wednesday], and there was some improvement, nothing dramatic," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We'll put him through more today to see what he can do -- have him take to the cage and see if he can swing."

Hurdle at the time conceded the DL as "absolutely" an immediate option, particularly since the four-day All-Star break would cut down on the number of games Marte would actually have to miss.

As for covering for the absence of Harrison possibly into early September, the team's brain trust will meet during the break to determine the best course of action.

"We'll look at internal options," Hurdle said, "and this time of the year there are other options to consider and to pursue. Whether the waiver wire, or being aggressive with an early opportunity to add [prior the Trade Deadline] … there's different ways to get it done."

Kang's sliding grab

For internal reinforcements, the Bucs in the past have not considered anyone below the Triple-A level. Viable options with Indianapolis include infielders Alen Hanson and Gift Ngoepe. However, if the Pirates decide they will be comfortable with Jung Ho Kang dropping anchor at third base, Jaff Decker or, yes, Jose Tabata could be someone to pick up the slack both for Harrison's bat and for Marte's absence from the outfield.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.