The Pirates have recalled Jordy Mercer from his rehab assignment with Indianapolis. To make room on the active roster, they have placed Travis Ishikawa on the 15-day disabled list with a low back strain. The move to bring Mercer back was expected this weekend, and it was somewhat expected that Ishikawa would be the guy going out. However, it wasn’t expected that he’d be going on the disabled list.
By placing Ishikawa on the DL, the Pirates are able to keep him on the 40-man roster, meaning they can activate him when his DL time is up and recall him when rosters expand in September. The move wasn’t back-dated, so Ishikawa wouldn’t be eligible to return until September 6th, at the earliest.
Mercer isn’t in the lineup tonight, instead showing up on the bench with Jung-ho Kang starting at shortstop. Josh Harrison, who returned from the DL on Friday, is also on the bench, with Neil Walker at second and Aramis Ramirez at third. Mercer represents the best defensive shortstop option on the team, so it will be interesting to see how he is used throughout the game tonight.
UPDATE 7:11 PM: Live report from Pete Ellis at PNC Park…
Jordy Mercer (knee) has been activated from his rehab stint in Triple-A Indianapolis, but is not in the starting lineup for tonight’s game and will not immediately re-assume the starting shortstop role.
“[Clint Hurdle and I] talked a little bit,” Mercer said. “He said he didn’t want to throw me in there right away, obviously. He wants to work my way back into the lineup and help this team win.”
Mercer says that his knee is not causing any issues with the lateral movements that are required while playing the shortstop position. The biggest challenge for him will be fully re-acquiring his timing at the plate and adapting to the speed of the game.
“You can’t really prepare for game speed,” Mercer explained. “It took a few games to see the velocity and spin and things like that. It’s kind of like riding a bike. Eventually you see it and you figure it out.”
In order to make room for Mercer, the Pirates placed 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa on the DL with a lower back strain. This move leaves the Pirates with only three left-handed hitting options on their current roster, however this does not concern Hurdle.
“If you look at [Michael Morse’s] splits throughout his career, he’s not a guy that hits just against left-handed pitching,” Hurdle said. “He’s shown similar splits [against right-handers]. There’s coverage against right-handers as well. Rodriguez has hit right-handers better this year than left-handers. From that standpoint, there might be a couple of left-handed hitters on the bench. But they’ll be games when we don’t.”
Morse is a .279 career hitter against right-handed pitching, while Rodriguez is batting .241 this season against right-handers.
It remains to be seen how Hurdle will distribute playing time to Josh Harrison and Mercer, but it is probable that Kang will remain in a starting role, receiving starts at shortstop as well as third base.
“Jordy will get some starts. Jung-Ho needs to play,” Hurdle said. “They’ll be days when either Kang can play short or play third. Ramirez’s bat has played as well. I’ll look at a bunch of different indicators. We’ll look at some straight matchups, as far as that goes.”