Pirates notebook: McCutchen expects to return to lineup Friday
Andrew McCutchen was scratched from the starting lineup Thursday against the Miami Marlins with a sore right shoulder, but the All-Star center fielder pinch hit and said after the game that he expects to play Friday against the Rockies in Colorado.
Starling Marte moved to center field from left field, and Alex Presley was inserted in left, batting second. Neil Walker batted third, taking McCutchen's spot in the order.
McCutchen said there wasn't one play to blame for the soreness, just wear and tear of the season.
“It's been sore for a while now,” McCutchen said. “I keep aggravating it every time I dive, but it's nothing I can't play with. They just decided to give me a day, and I kind of got a day.”
McCutchen pinch hit in the seventh inning and singled to left field to load the bases. It was his first career hit as a pinch-hitter after going 0 for 4 with three walks.
Before the game, manager Clint Hurdle said McCutchen's arm is stronger and more accurate than ever. Hurdle said McCutchen also has improved his base running over the past year.
“I think he got back to what we saw the year before I got here,” Hurdle said. “I saw it pretty good in 2011. Last year I think there was a little glitch trying to find his way on the bases. This year he's back to being aggressive. His leads and first-step movement, he continually works on that, so his base running is better this year than last year.”
Grilli making progress
Jason Grilli will start playing catch this weekend in Colorado as he continues his progression back to the bullpen. The Pirates closer, who still is tied for second in the National League in saves with 30, has been on the disabled list with a right forearm strain since July 23.
“Feels good,” Grilli said. “The rest was important and following protocol of what the doctors have been telling me. I'm working hard and doing what I'm supposed to do, and that's why I'll be back when I'm ready. … Nobody wants to be back more than me.”
Grilli said there's no timetable for his return, but Hurdle indicated Grilli could be ready to rejoin the team Sept. 1 when active rosters expand.
“There are a couple question marks out there that could be very interesting for us adding in September,” Hurdle said. “Wandy (Rodriguez) won't be a Sept. 1 add because he won't be ready. Theoretically, Grilli could be because we only have to build him up to one inning.”
Hurdle also raised James McDonald's name as a potential September addition as the right-hander gets built back to three innings and 50 pitches.
“Where that goes, I don't know,” Hurdle said. “That's another wild card name you could throw in there. But Wandy and Grilli are two names that, we get them back, it'd be nice. If not, we know we're capable right now with what we have.”
Let's play more
Thursday was the Pirates' 14th extra-inning game of the season (9-5). They played six last season.