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Pirates notebook: McCutchen returns to starting lineup; Alvarez out

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 12:57 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen winces after turning away from an inside pitch during the first inning against the Cardinals on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The Pirates' Travis Snider returns to the dugout after exiting the game during the third inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, at PNC Park.

Andrew McCutchen continues to be remarkably resilient.

Hours after leaving Tuesday night's game in pain, McCutchen returned to the Pirates' starting lineup Wednesday afternoon in the series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals.

McCutchen drove a ball near the right-center warning track for a sacrifice fly to score Jeff Locke in the third inning, and singled to left off Carlos Martinez in the seventh.

“There is a difference between playing injured and playing hurt. I'm playing hurt,” McCutchen said. “I know my 80 percent is better than most people's.”

McCutchen left Tuesday's game in the sixth inning after crashing into the center field wall earlier in the game while making a leaping a catch. McCutchen grimaced and leaned forward on his knees on the warning track following the catch as he aggravated his rib injury. McCutchen said after the game he did expect to play Wednesday.

“I got up (Wednesday) ready to go,” McCutchen said. “It felt good.”

Tuesday marked the first week McCutchen has played through the avulsion fracture of the 11th rib, an injury he suffered Aug. 3 at Arizona. An avulsion fracture is when cartilage is torn away from the rib bone.

On Sunday in Milwaukee, McCutchen said he was not 100 percent and did not expect to be 100 percent for the rest of the season. But McCutchen said he was good enough to play, good enough to swing, and good enough to hit two 400-foot-plus home runs against the Brewers.

Snider leaves with injury

Pirates right fielder Travis Snider left with left hamstring discomfort sustained in the third inning after legging out a bunt single.

Snider said the move was precautionary. He felt like his hamstring “was cramping” and will have a better idea in the next 24 to 48 hours if there is a strain. Snider said he did not want to test the hamstring running from first to third. Jose Tabata replaced him in the game.

Alvarez out

Pedro Alvarez was wearing a walking boot Wednesday morning after leaving Tuesday's game with discomfort in his left foot.

Alvarez had a noticeable limp as he walked around the clubhouse. Ike Davis, who homered in a second consecutive game, started at first base.

The three-headed platoon at first base appeared to have been morphing into a more traditional two-man platoon with Alvarez starting a fourth straight game Tuesday before he was injured in the sixth inning while moving to his left trying to field a ground ball. Manager Clint Hurdle did not have a postgame update on Alvarez.

Clint said it

Hurdle was asked how he handles personnel and lineup decisions with players such as Davis, who looked to be losing out on playing time at first base prior to Alvarez's injury.

“You handle animals. You talk to people,” Hurdle said. “Change is the one constant. It's going to happen. You're going to get another opportunity.”

Everyday Russ

Perhaps telling of the stakes in the past two series, catcher Russell Martin started a sixth consecutive game, unusual since Hurdle usually rests his starting catcher during a day game following a night game.

“We talk about McCutchen's presence in the lineup, and I think there is an equal presence with Martin,” Hurdle said. “We asked him to let us know how he felt (Wednesday).”

Not only is Martin having an excellent defensive season, but among batters with at least 350 plate appearances, he is second in baseball behind the injured Troy Tulowitzki in on-base percentage (.413).

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

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