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03/07/09 4:55 PM EST

Moss to have tests on right thumb

Diving for ball causes sprain, adds to Bucs' outfield injuries

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After getting through the first three weeks of Spring Training without any serious injuries, the Pirates are holding their breath as they wait for news concerning right fielder Brandon Moss.

Moss sprained the ligament in his right thumb in the second inning of Saturday's game against the Twins while trying to make a diving catch in right-center field. The ball skipped off the ground and pushed his thumb sideways, as Moss described it.

He was to have X-rays, and likely an MRI, done when the Pirates returned to Bradenton, Fla. It will be after those tests come back that the Bucs will have a better gauge on the seriousness of the injury.

"He jammed it pretty good," manager John Russell said. "We'll have to just take the next steps and see where he's at."

A worst-case scenario would be tissue damage or a torn ligament, which sometimes requires surgery depending on the severity of the tear.

After sustaining that hit to the thumb, it didn't take Moss long to know that something was not right. Two hitters later he caught a line drive and cringed.

"I caught [Delmon] Young's fly ball and when I went to throw it in, it killed me just to put my thumb underneath the ball," Moss said. "I couldn't grip the ball, so I knew something was wrong."

Moss stayed in to play the third inning before being replaced by Garrett Jones in the fourth. He caught one fly ball in the third.

"It's frustrating," Moss said. "I'll get through it. I'll do whatever I've got to do and get ready again."

The Pirates will take a large hit if Moss' injury ends up being as severe as feared. Moss, 25, had already been pegged as the team's starting right fielder and was expected to be an integral part of the offense as well.

Moss' injury is just the latest hit against a Pirates outfielder this spring. Both Eric Hinske (strained left rib cage) and Steve Pearce (strained left calf) have been out since Feb. 26. While neither injury is expected to linger, Russell said that Hinske and Pearce aren't likely to be back in Grapefruit League action until at least the latter part of next week.

Outfielder Jose Tabata (right shoulder inflammation) is on the mend as well, though Russell said that Tabata could be ready to pinch-hit as early as Monday. He is just beginning to throw again after not having played since Feb. 27.

With the sudden shortage of outfielders, Russell said that the Pirates will likely have to call up one or two players from Minor League camp to serve as placeholders until injured players start returning. The Bucs do have some flexibility with some of their other utility players in camp, too. Jones, Andy Phillips and Luis Cruz are all able to play both infield and outfield positions.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.