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Pirates notebook: McCutchen returns to lineup; Marte remains out

| Sunday, May 11, 2014, 8:15 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Starling Marte sits on the bench as Josh Harrison and Jose Tabata get fired up in the dugout before a game against the Cardinals Sunday, May 11, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' Starling Marte sits on the bench as Josh Harrison and Jose Tabata get fired up in the dugout before a game against the Cardinals Sunday, May 11, 2014, at PNC Park.

One starting outfielder returned to the Pirates' lineup Sunday. Another's status is unknown.

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen was back batting third Sunday after missing Saturday's game with a sore left foot. The status of Pirates left fielder Starling Marte remains uncertain. Marte left the game Saturday with back tightness. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Sunday it was doubtful Marte was available off the bench. Jose Tabata started in left field against the St. Louis Cardinals. Travis Snider, who completed his suspension Saturday, started in right field.

“Everything we have is that it's some spasms and tightness that will work itself out,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “He needs a little bit of down time. We want to make sure we give him enough time to knock this thing out as soon as we can.”

Is Marte a candidate for the disabled list?

“We're still working through the process,” Huntington said. “We do feel that if we can take care of it now, we can knock this thing out of there. But injuries are gray areas.”

McCutchen said he was unsure of what caused what he described as “soreness” in his foot, but McCutchen said he has experienced the condition before and gave no thought to taking a second straight day off.

“It's better. It's not going to hinder me,” McCutchen said. “We just gave it a day to calm down. I guess it's just one of those things you wake up with. … I wasn't too worried.”

Decker up, Morel down

Because of the banged-up outfield, the Pirates recalled outfielder Jaff Decker from Triple-A and optioned Brent Morel to Indianapolis.

Decker was unsure of how long he would be with the Pirates. He was batting .238 with one home run and three steals in 30 games with Indianapolis to go along with a .339 on-base percentage.

Decker, who was obtained from the Padres in an offseason trade, allows the Pirates versatility. Hurdle said he is an interesting bench player because he can play all three outfield positions and has a strong, accurate throwing arm.

Grilli throws

Injured Pirates closer Jason Grilli completed a 25-pitch bullpen before Sunday's game as he creeps closer to returning to game action. Grilli said he mixed in his slider and said he is on target to pitch in a simulated game in Milwaukee.

“It went well,” Grilli said. “I threw all my pitches.”

Grilli was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique on April 25.

Say what?

With two runners on and one out in the seventh inning of Saturday's game, Hurdle explained why he went against conventional wisdom and let a left-handed pitcher, Justin Wilson, face right-handed Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday.

“I know people are going ‘You can't do this.' Well, yeah, you can,” Hurdle said. “if you look at (Holliday's) splits, he's 200 (batting average) points better against right-handed pitching. You look at him lifetime, he's hit right-handers better than left-handers…. I'm sorry, but this is a better matchup than a right-on-right matchup. We did a lot of that (Saturday), some old school cutting it up and pasting.”

Wilson struck out Holliday as the Pirates' bullpen combined for 4 13 shutout innings.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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