Pirates Officially Eliminated From the Playoffs After Loss to Cubs, Giants Win

PITTSBURGH — The Pirates’ 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, compounded with a San Francisco Giants win later that night eliminated the Pirates from 2016 playoff contention.

The Pirates need to go 5-0 in their remaining five games to preserve their fourth consecutive winning season.

With the goals for the season out of reach and the team officially playing out the string, I talked to some of the team’s injured players about what can be gained from the last few days of baseball and how their injuries will affect their winter.

• Center fielder Starling Marte (back spasms) appeared in a game for only the third time since Sept. 5 with his pinch-hit appearance against the Cubs. It’s been a frustrating month for Marte, as his back issues have prevented him from participating much down the stretch.

“It’s difficult, especially because you guys know how I play,” Marte said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “I enjoy playing the game. I play aggressive and it just because became difficult because my team needs me. My brothers are out there battling and I wish I could get out there with them. Right now, I’m just submitting to my trainers. Mentally, I’m not allowing it to affect me, because obviously, this is something that I can’t control right now.”

Even more frustrating has been the nature of Marte’s injury: here today, gone the next. A spasm, then tightness. Feeling fine, then back to the drawing board. Worst of all, Marte and the team’s trainers have not been able to find a cause or a prognosis for his injury or a way to prevent it from happening in the future.

“At this moment, I can’t really say at what time I think things will get better,” Marte said. “I believe that so far, things are moving quickly and I’m feeling a lot more better than things were before. Right now, I’m just submitting to my trainers and what they have me doing and hopefully I’ll get back and be able to bounce back as soon as possible.”

Marte will see how he feels on Wednesday after his therapy session and determine if he will be able to return to the lineup any time soon. He still would like to return this season if he can be cleared to do so.

• Catcher Chris Stewart (knee surgery) is still on crutches, but is looking forward to a relatively normal off-season once he is again able to put weight on his surgically mended knee.

Stewart said that when Dr. James Andrews did his surgery, they found an old injury from when he was a kid that was contributing to the degradation of the cartilage in his knee. Cleaned up, he expects a full return to health for his age 35 season and even hopes to be able to add strength to the joint to allow him to play back-to-back days.

“My meniscus tear was a little more significant than we originally thought,” he said. “Hopefully, my knee works a lot better now. Before, I was able to get through, but it was weak and I started compensating my other body parts. That was the reason for shutting it down and going in there and figuring it out.”

• Second baseman Josh Harrison (groin) is feeling “a lot better than expected” and has already discussed and off-season plan with the training staff that should be pretty much normal. Harrison has recognized the importance of that by watching teammates struggle with recovering from off-season injuries and then not being able to put the proper amount of work in, as well. He specifically mentioned Jung Ho Kang’s difficulties this year as something that could have been caused by his inactivity in the off-season.

“I’ve worked out with guys who had to have modified workouts because thy were rehabbing a shoulder or a leg and you could see them just (going through the motions). I’m happy in that regard. When I’m ready to workout, I’ll be full go.”

  • Marte sounds like Clemente who always was complaining about some kind of malady but he played through them all.

  • Trade Polanco please! He is such a clutz in the field, makes another boneheaded play that cost them a rare win against the Cubs. If they keep him you can bet he will do the same thing in a big game someday that will really hurt, besides he’s so inconsistent at the plate.

  • I’ve appreciated your work from Pittsburgh this year, Alan. Thanks!

  • Trade Marte this winter.

    • Why do you want them to trade the guy that was their best position player this year who also happens to be locked up with an affordable contract?

      • Yes he cannot stay healthy and is so aloof most of the time and takes too many plays off. He has no discipline at the plate and cannot drive in any runs. Trade him and that bonehead Polanco now while they have some value.

        • Have you read about how he has actively tried to make it look like he’s not hustling on plays now and again in order to bait foolish runners into attempting to take extra bases? I’ll take actual production over what a guy “looks” like every time.

    • No.

  • “Center fielder Starling Marte…”
    I like the sounds and look of that.