Mercer out 6 weeks for Bucs with knee sprain

Mercer out 6 weeks for Bucs with knee sprain

KANSAS CITY -- All one needs to know about the trauma involved in Jordy Mercer being taken down by Carlos Gomez's slide Sunday is that the Pirates welcomed as good news the prognosis that he could miss only six weeks.

Upon examination Monday in Pittsburgh by the club's medical staff, Mercer was diagnosed with a sprain of the medial collateral ligament in the left knee, and a lower leg contusion.

"That's the way we look at it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "One injury turned out to be a contusion that is already feeling better. And for the Grade 2 sprain to be nonsurgical -- yeah, I think we caught a break."

Still, the Bucs face a major challenge: Continuing to chase the National League Central-leading Cardinals without the regular left side of their infield until September; third baseman Josh Harrison went down first, two weeks ago, with surgery for a torn left thumb ligament.

While Mercer went on the 15-day disabled list, infielder Brent Morel's contract was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis. He takes the bench seat of Sean Rodriguez, who steps in as the regular third baseman with Jung Ho Kang taking over his natural position of shortstop.

Kang's solo blast

"Yeah, it's a challenge," Hurdle said. "In this game, no other team really cares. [Former football coach] Lou Holtz said it best [of injuries]: 'Ninety percent don't care, and the other 10 percent are glad it happened.' So we're gonna play on.

"We look forward to the opportunity to play, and get our game back on."

Morel, who appeared in 23 games with the Bucs last season (he went 7-for-39), was hitting .266 for Indianapolis, with 32 extra-base hits (21 doubles, two triples, nine homers) in 297 at-bats. His primary job with the Pirates will be to relieve at third base when Rodriguez is needed at short.

Touching all the bases

• First: Morel had not been on the team's 40-man roster. To clear room for him, the Pirates moved Corey Hart (knee) from the 15- to the 60-day DL.

• Second: The Pirates have now been swept in every NL Central city except Chicago, and overall have an interdivisional road record of 4-14, and 17-8 at other stops. The Bucs were also swept at Washington a month ago. And get this: In road series they start with a win, their overall won-lost record is 19-6.

• Third: Pedro Alvarez took his second turn of the season at DH in Monday's game. In his first game in that role, on July 1 in Detroit, he hit his first career homer as a DH.

• Home: Hurdle, a No. 1 Royals Draft pick in 1975, is getting his second opportunity to manage in Kansas City. He hopes it goes better than the first: His Colorado Rockies were swept here on June 23-25, 2008.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com 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.