Marte day to day with tightness in back
With McCutchen already out, Sanchez and Mercer make outfield debuts
PITTSBURGH -- Midway through Saturday night's game against the Cardinals at PNC Park, an eventual 4-3 win, the Pirates found themselves down two center fielders and fresh out of outfielders, period.
As a result, veteran first baseman Gaby Sanchez made his Major League outfield debut in the fifth inning. Three innings later, after Sanchez departed as part of a double switch, Jordy Mercer took over in right, also making his big league debut at the position.
Andrew McCutchen was missing from the starting lineup because of his sore left ankle, which has been bothering him for nearly a month. McCutchen exited the April 11 game in Milwaukee early because of the discomfort, and apparently re-aggravated the tender joint landing on it after jumping for Allen Craig's home run in the fourth inning of Friday night's game.
Starting in McCutchen's place, Starling Marte, a natural center fielder, was removed from the game with tightness in his lower back after visibly favoring the back on a groundout in the third inning.
"It was really bad," said Marte, wincing, of running down the baseline on that slowly tapped ball to third base. "Otherwise that is an easy base hit for me."
When Marte's turn to bat came up again in the fourth, Sanchez hit for him, and he stayed in the game to play right field. Josh Harrison moved over to left, and Jose Tabata took over in center.
"We actually talked to Gaby [on Friday] night, because both [McCutchen and Marte] ran into some discomfort, but [they] were able to play through it," said manager Clint Hurdle.
Both McCutchen and Marte are considered day to day.
The Bucs were already down an outfielder when the day began, with Travis Snider serving the second game of his two-game suspension for his part in an April 20 on-field altercation with the Brewers.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.