LOS ANGELES -- Closer Octavio Dotel flew back to Pittsburgh before Sunday's game vs. the Dodgers to be with his wife, Massiel, who is expecting to give birth to the couple's first child.

With Dotel unavailable on Sunday, manager John Russell said a save opportunity would go to either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek. Hanrahan has 14 career saves, while Meek picked up his first with a 1-2-3 inning against Los Angeles on Thursday.

Dotel is expected to rejoin the Pirates for the start of the next homestand on Tuesday. He last pitched on Wednesday and is 3-for-5 in save opportunities this season.

McCutchen day-to-day with ankle sprain

LOS ANGELES -- Andrew McCutchen has been diagnosed with a mild right ankle sprain after twisting it in the third inning of the Pirates' 9-3 loss to the Dodgers. The Pittsburgh center fielder is listed as day-to-day.

The incident happened with two outs in the third frame after McCutchen sprinted down the first-base line, trying to beat out an infield grounder. Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda went to cover first base and McCutchen seemed to catch part of Kuroda's foot and the outside of the bag in his final stride.

McCutchen immediately went down and lay in the grass before being attended to by Pirates trainers.

"I was trying to avoid his foot since his foot was on the inside part of the bag," McCutchen said afterward, his ankle heavily taped. "I was more scared than I was hurt, I think. I felt like I twisted it pretty bad."

Eventually, McCutchen tested out his right ankle with a few sprints and declared himself OK to remain in the game and played until midway through the sixth. Hitting in the top half of the inning, McCutchen's ankle began stiffening up when he tried to plant his foot, and manager John Russell took him out immediately after.

"After the adrenaline wore off, it started getting a little sore on me," McCutchen said. "It's pretty minor. I can still run on it and put pressure on it. I'm sure it's not that big of a deal."

The Pirates can only hope that it's not a big deal and that their prized outfielder will be ready to go when Pittsburgh opens up a nine-game homestand in two days. McCutchen has been the team's most consistent offensive performer this season and has seven RBIs in his last nine games.

When asked if he expects to be ready to go when the Pirates welcome the Cubs to PNC Park on Tuesday, McCutchen replied: "I plan on it."

Jones back in lineup day after procedure

LOS ANGELES -- Garrett Jones returned to the Pirates' lineup on Sunday, one day after undergoing a medical procedure to dislodge a piece of meat that was stuck in his esophagus.

Jones checked himself into White Memorial Medical Center on Saturday after a piece of beef he ate at Dodger Stadium after Friday's 6-2 loss got stuck where the esophagus meets the stomach. Jones said he had a similar problem in the past, though this was the first time that Jones couldn't force the food up or down his throat. He spent Friday night unable to even hold liquids down.

Doctors administered anesthesia to Jones on Saturday afternoon, and while Jones was asleep, they went down his throat with some tubes to dislodge the food. Jones remained in the hospital for a few hours after the 30-minute procedure before he rejoined his teammates at Dodger Stadium just before the start of Saturday night's game.

"It was just a freak thing," Jones said. "It's happened before, but never this severe. I knew something was stuck in there and wasn't coming out. Anything I ate or drank, I would just throw up."

Jones dealt with a sore throat on Sunday, but said he was otherwise fine.

"Right now, I just have to eat some soft foods and chew the tough foods really well," he said. "I need to take smaller bites."

Donnelly reveals discomfort in left side

LOS ANGELES -- Brendan Donnelly has been sidelined since Tuesday with what the veteran reliever described as discomfort in his left side. The injury was not publicly revealed by the Pirates until Sunday.

Donnelly characterized the ailment as "minor" and his status is day-to-day. The injury occurred on the final pitch that Donnelly threw in a relief appearance against the Brewers on Tuesday. After getting Milwaukee pinch-hitter Jody Gerut to fly out, Donnelly grabbed his left side as he walked off the Miller Park mound.

Donnelly was asked earlier if he hurt himself on that pitch, and at the time, he said that he was fine. The right-hander was not available during the four-game series the Pirates just wrapped up in Los Angeles.

Donnelly appeared optimistic that he would not need to go on the disabled list, saying that would likely happen "only if there's a need" to get another reliever onto the big league roster. The Pirates have an eight-man bullpen as it is right now, so they may have sufficient arms to cover in Donnelly's absence.

In 11 relief appearances this season, Donnelly has allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and 10 walks in nine innings.

Pearce making strong case for promotion

LOS ANGELES -- The Pirates are expected to add another position player to their roster in the upcoming week, and Steve Pearce continues to make a strong case for the promotion. Heading into Sunday, Pearce was hitting .354 with 15 extra-base hits in 22 games for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.

"I think he continues to mature in his approach to the game and his work ethic," said Kyle Stark, director of player development for the Pirates. "That has carried over. I think with him, he's shown stretches of really dominating, and I think the challenge for him is to continue to stick with his progress. He's a guy that can maybe get away with some things at Triple-A that he can't at the big leagues. It's his job to be consistent with his process so the results are real at the big leagues as well."

The only area of deficiency for Pearce this season has been his production with runners in scoring position. Despite ranking third in the International League with 29 hits, Pearce hasn't gotten the base knocks in big situations. He has only two hits in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position and has driven in only eight runs all season.

Even still, the 27-year-old Pearce looks like the most intriguing option as the Pirates look to add an impact bat to the bench. Pearce is no stranger to the big leagues, having spent parts of the last three seasons in Pittsburgh. To this point, though, he hasn't had success in a pinch-hitting role, which would most likely be his primary duty in the Majors. Pearce is 4-for-27 as a pinch-hitter with the Pirates.

"[A bench role] is probably not how you draw it up," Stark said. "But as guys get older, you get to a point where you may be more willing to put a guy in that role than you would early on.

Worth noting

The Pirates put their starting pitcher in the ninth spot of the batting order for the first time this season in Sunday's finale against the Dodgers. The pitcher hit eighth in the team's previous 24 games. Asked about his reasoning, manager John Russell said it was dictated by who else he had in the lineup. ... Right-hander Michael Crotta made his Triple-A debut on Sunday and picked up a win for Indianapolis. Crotta allowed two earned runs on six hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out four. ... First baseman Jeff Clement was given the day off on Sunday amid an 0-for-15 funk at the plate. Clement's batting average has dropped to .182, which is the lowest of any National League first baseman with a minimum of 50 plate appearances this year. ... Double-A Altoona handed Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals' phenom starter, the first loss of his professional career on Sunday. The Curve had six hits and scored three earned runs off Strasburg in his 4 2/3-inning start. Alex Presley drove in two of those runs with a single.