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Pirates notebook: Mercer likely to be sent back to Triple-A

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The Pirates' Jordy Mercer (10) connects on a fifth-inning base hit against the Mets on Friday, May 10, 2013, at Citi Field in New York.
Sunday, May 12, 2013, 3:27 p.m.

NEW YORK — When second baseman Neil Walker comes off the disabled list Monday, the Pirates most likely will send Jordy Mercer back to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Mercer started eight of the past nine games at second base and went 8 for 29 (.276) with two doubles, three home runs and four RBI. On Saturday, he had his first two-homer game.

The only other option would be to designate veteran infielder John McDonald, who would have to clear waivers. Mercer still has minor league options available.

“I think the term general managers use is you want to maintain all of your assets,” manager Clint Hurdle said Sunday. “You don't want to release somebody if another guy has options. We're mindful of that.”

McDonald has played in 15 games and is batting .067 with one RBI. He's also the team's third catcher, a potentially valuable asset as Russell Martin continues to nurse a neck injury.

“It's going to be a tough decision however it plays out,” Hurdle said. “At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: Do you want Jordy Mercer up here as an extra man, or do you want to continue to develop him as a shortstop (at Indy)?”

If nothing else, Mercer is happy he's forced management to make a difficult choice.

“I knew the situation, so I wanted to come in here and have fun and take stress out of it,” Mercer said. “That was the main thing. Whatever happens, happens. So far, it's been positive. I'm excited to see what the future holds.”

• Catcher Tony Sanchez returned to Indy on Sunday. He was brought up the day before to be on the “taxi squad,” so he could have been activated quickly if Martin's neck injury resulted in a disabled list stint. Because he wasn't on the active roster, Sanchez wasn't allowed to be in the dugout Saturday. Instead, he worked in the batting cage. “Took about 100 swings,” Sanchez said. “Never want to waste a day.”

• Righty Charlie Morton (elbow surgery, sore shoulder) will throw a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday at PNC Park. Morton is slated to resume his rehab assignment Thursday by starting (four innings/65 pitches) with Double-A Altoona. If all goes well, he could be activated around May 26.

• Righty Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) will start (three innings/50 pitches) Monday for High-A Bradenton.

• Righty James McDonald (sore shoulder) still is doing minimal throwing on flat ground.

• Infielder Chase d'Arnaud (thumb surgery) was hit on the wrist Saturday during a rehab game in extended spring training. X-rays were negative.

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