8/8/2013 5:51 P.M. ET
Out of lineup, McCutchen picks up first pinch-hit
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen was a late scratch from the Pirates' lineup for Thursday afternoon's game, removed with discomfort in his right shoulder.
Though gone from the lineup, McCutchen was not forgotten: He came off the bench in the seventh inning to spark a two-run tying rally with a single -- the first pinch-hit of his career -- on the way to the Pirates' 5-4 victory in 10 innings over Miami.
"I'm glad I could still help out," said McCutchen, who called the issue with his shoulder "an ongoing thing. "I've been dealing with it on and off, and we decided to just give it a day to rest it.
"We're thinking for the future. So we gave it a day."
Starling Marte slid over from left field to center to replace McCutchen, whose status was officially listed as day to day. Alex Presley was inserted in the lineup in left field against Miami right-hander Jose Fernandez.
The development with McCutchen arose without prior concerns.
The National League Most Valuable Player Award candidate did contribute to the Pirates' 4-3 victory Tuesday night with an all-out diving catch in the seventh inning on which he had to fully extend both arms.
Afterward, however, McCutchen oddly made a point of stating, "I got myself in the best position to catch it. I feel I made it look fairly easy. At least I didn't get hurt."
In his postgame remarks Thursday, manager Clint Hurdle did acknowledge that McCutchen had aggravated the ongoing discomfort in the shoulder while making that catch. McCutchen also puts strain on the joint by often going into bases headfirst on steal attempts.
McCutchen had shown no signs of discomfort in Wednesday night's game, in which he launched his 16th homer and later beat out an infield single to help set up the winning run in the Pirates' 4-2 victory.
Likewise, his swing obviously was not impaired as he pulled a laser into left field to abet the Bucs' tying rally on Thursday. McCutchen had previously been 0-for-4 in his rare pinch-hitting opportunities.
Grilli, Wandy working their way back
PITTSBURGH -- Jason Grilli could begin throwing this weekend to test the condition of his right forearm, and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is holding out hope his incumbent closer could return to the bullpen for the start of the September stretch drive.
Grilli, still second in the National League with 30 saves two weeks after he went on the disabled list with a strained tendon, could play some catch during the club's visit to Denver this weekend.
"He's still ahead of schedule," Hurdle said. "He could be ready by September 1 [a logical target date, since rosters expand from the 25-man limit that day]. He's got to build up only to one inning."
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, absent for nine weeks also with a forearm injury, could throw his first bullpen at Coors Field, putting him even ahead of Grilli's schedule. However, as a starting pitcher, Rodriguez has to stretch out his arm more and thus is not a Sept. 1 option.
James McDonald, out since early May with shoulder discomfort, is set to launch into his own throwing agenda, at the team's Pirate City complex in Florida. McDonald's program calls for him to work up to 50 pitches, making him only an outside possibility for late-season long-relief help.
"Wandy won't be a Sept. 1 add," Hurdle said. "The progression he has to go through, to build up to at least five innings and 80 pitches, will take us past that date."
Since they are on the DL, Grilli and Rodriguez would both be eligible for the postseason, even if not on the active roster at the normal cutoff date of Aug. 31.
"If we get Wandy and Grilli back, it'll be nice. But we know we're capable right now with what we have," said Hurdle, who admitted he would like to have a third lefty for his stretch and playoff rotation. "Whether I get it or not, I don't know. Like I'm always telling my daughter, 'Get what you can get, and don't throw a fit.'"
• Entering the final game of this homestand, the Pirates had out-homered visitors, 18-4, in the last 25 games at PNC Park.
• When he was scratched with right shoulder discomfort prior to Thursday's game, McCutchen missed an opportunity to extend a streak of five straight multi-hit games. He was 10-for-16 in those five games.
• Grilli was still stoked the morning after getting to hang out with the Black Crowes following their local concert Wednesday night. Before taking Stage AE, the group's members had taken in pregame batting practice at PNC Park.
First number, last word
10 & 5: Home runs this season by Pedro Alvarez in day games and in starts by Gerrit Cole, respectively, prior to Thursday's game against the Marlins, in which both conditions were met.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'd rather have Fernandez than Cole. I like our guy a whole bunch. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. This isn't about 10 starts." -- Hurdle, on Jose Fernandez, Miami's 21-year-old All-Star pitcher, and his own Cole, who opposed each other Thursday afternoon.
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.