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Pirates notebook: David Freese unimpressed by his 900th career hit

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, 3:54 p.m.
Pirates third baseman Sean Rodriguez catches a pop-up at the dugout next to pitcher Trevor Williams during the seventh inning against the Reds Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Sean Rodriguez catches a pop-up at the dugout next to pitcher Trevor Williams during the seventh inning against the Reds Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates third baseman David Freese drives in the winning run with a base hit during the eighth inning against the Cubs Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman David Freese drives in the winning run with a base hit during the eighth inning against the Cubs Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, at PNC Park.

CINCINNATI — David Freese wasn't especially keen on collecting the baseball he smacked Friday for his 900th career hit.

“Nah, I don't care,” Freese said Saturday morning. “For 900? Maybe 1,000 I'd think about it. But 900? Not really a big deal. What's the difference between that and 800?”

Well … um, it's a hundred more.

“Exactly,” Freese said, laughing. “That's about it. That's about what I think of it.”

In the sixth inning, Freese reached 900 when he ripped a double into the gap in right-center field. He went 2 for 4 in the 4-2 loss against the Cincinnati Reds.

A nine-year veteran, Freese went into Saturday's game batting .268. This has been a season of peaks and valleys for the 34-year-old third baseman.

At the end of April, Freese was hitting .321. One month later, he was down to .250. Since then, he has bounced up and down within 30 points of .250.

“Throughout the season, you've seen a guy who continues to work and fight,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “With every lull, there's been a bounce back and he continues to give us some of out best at-bats in the biggest situations.”

Despite reaching the mile marker, Freese is 25 hits shy of cracking the top 100 for most hits among active players.

“Don't get me wrong — every hit is cool in the big leagues,” Freese said. “But I really don't care about 900.”

Marte injured

Hurdle revealed left fielder Starling Marte is out with hand and shoulder injuries suffered while sliding head-first in Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Marte did not start the past two games against the Reds.

“He's still experiencing some finger and shoulder discomfort,” Hurdle said. “He'll try to swing the bat (Sunday), and we'll see if he's available.”

Chasing Clemente

Andrew McCutchen hit his 200th home run Wednesday, which puts him 40 behind Roberto Clemente for third place on the Pirates' all-time list. McCutchen insisted he isn't thinking about surpassing Clemente, a Hall of Famer who played from 1955 to 1972.

“I ain't trying to catch nobody,” McCutchen said. “I'm just trying to do my job.”

In franchise history, only four players — McCutchen, Clemente, Ralph Kiner (301 homers) and Willie Stargell (475) — have hit more than 200 home runs.

“It's cool, but I don't think too much about it,” McCutchen said. “Things happen. I'm blessed to be able to play long enough and put up good numbers.”

McCutchen, 30, has hit 20-plus homers in each of the past seven seasons. He ranks seventh in club history with 532 extra-base hits.

“I'm not a home-run hitter,” McCutchen said. “I'm just a guy who can hit home runs. I've always known what I'm capable of doing. I was always capable of having power, even when I was 18. I've gotten older, gotten wiser. I understand my approach and my swing.”

Pitching plans

On Sunday, Hurdle will announce the rotation just for the upcoming series against the Brewers. … Reliever Joaquin Benoit is expected to rejoin the team Monday in Pittsburgh. He has been away since Sept. 11 attending to a family matter in the Dominican Republic.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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