8/8/2014 8:22 P.M. ET
Bucs play waiting game with injured Cutch
By Stephen Pianovich / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates continue their waiting game with their star center fielder.
Andrew McCutchen -- who sustained an avulsion fracture of his 11th rib in his left side Sunday -- remains off the disabled list, and manager Clint Hurdle said it was "his understanding" the reigning National League MVP was able to take a few swings of a bat recently. The Pirates and McCutchen said they want to hold off on a DL move for the center fielder to see if he could be game-ready before 15 days are up.
"They continue and try and add different mobility exercises, resistance exercises, movement -- the degree of running he's doing right now, I think it's the minimum," Hurdle said Friday. "[McCutchen is] progressing in a positive fashion as of now."
In addition to McCutchen's injury, second baseman Neil Walker was out of the starting lineup for the fifth time in six games Friday due to tightness in his back. Walker was able to take ground balls and batting practice on the field with his teammates -- an improvement from Thursday -- but Hurdle said he's still only available in an emergency scenario Friday.
Alvarez reinstated; Frieri DFA'd
PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez was back with the Pirates on Friday, and he spent time on the other side of the diamond.
Alvarez was activated from the bereavement list prior to the Pirates' series opener against the Padres, and the error-ridden third baseman took grounders at first base after fielding some at his usual post during batting practice. Reliever Ernesto Frieri was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
Alvarez leads the Majors with 24 errors this season -- all but one of which has been because of his arm. The throwing problems have worsened for Alvarez as the season has progressed, and he's committed six errors in his last 11 starts.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked about the possibility of Alvarez switching positions earlier in the week, but deflected the question.
Alvarez has seen his playing time decrease due to the problem, as he started just once in the final three games before going on the bereavement list. And in that one start, Alvarez made two poor throws -- one went for an error -- and he was pulled in the sixth inning.
Currently, the Pirates have a platoon of left-handed hitting Ike Davis and righty Gaby Sanchez splitting time at first. Alvarez, who hits left-handed, has a slash line of .246/.336/.432 against righties this season, while Davis' numbers are .254/.368/.398.
Meanwhile, Frieri, who was the recipient of a late June trade with the Angels for Jason Grilli, never found his footing with the Pirates. In 14 games, the right-hander had a 10.13 ERA and 1.781 WHIP.
Mercer relieved after text from pitcher struck by liner
PITTSBURGH -- Jordy Mercer received a text message late Thursday night that made it a lot easier for the shortstop to fall asleep.
Within five minutes of texting Dan Jennings, Mercer heard back from the Marlins' reliever, who let him know that he was going to be all right. Hours earlier, the two were involved in a frightening moment at PNC Park when Mercer hit a line drive, which struck the pitcher in the side of the head.
A CT scan on Jennings came back negative, and he spent the night in a Pittsburgh hospital after being diagnosed with a concussion, where he got Mercer's well wishes.
"I told him, 'My thoughts and prayers are with you and it's really, really good to hear from you,'" said Mercer, who got Jennings' number from fellow Pirate Tony Watson -- a college teammate of the reliever at the University of Nebraska. "That goes a long ways and made me sleep better last night."
First number, last word
12: The amount of consecutive games in which Josh Harrison has a hit. The 12-game streak, which Harrison extended with a triple in the first inning of Friday's series opener with the Padres, is a career high.
"I've seen pitchers get hit all over the place, but never square in the head. To watch it is different, but to actually do it, to be a part of it … It's something I never want to go through again." - Mercer on his liner that struck Jennings on Thursday night.
• Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole will make another rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday, Hurdle said. This will be his third rehab appearance since straining his right lat more than a month ago. Cole gave up five runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in his last start, and Hurdle is hoping for a lengthier outing this time.
"The last time it went to 70 pitches in less than five," Hurdle said. "So we'd like to see more innings, more ups and downs and more pitches."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.