SAN DIEGO -- Pirates center fielder Nate McLouth was absent from tonight's lineup as part of a precautionary course taken with a strained right oblique muscle that manager John Russell doesn't want to turn into a months-long injury.
"It's something, if you hurt it bad, you might be sitting there with [Ryan] Doumit," the Pirates' catcher out eight to 10 weeks after wrist surgery Thursday, Russell said tonight before the Pirates played the San Diego Padres for a second night without their Gold Glove center fielder.
McLouth felt the muscle strain in a batting-practice swing before Friday night's game, a 4-3 Padres triumph in 11 innings. He was receiving treatment and placed on an exercise regimen to both maintain strength and relieve stress on the injured area. But neither batting practice nor pinch-batting duty were in the cards for him tonight.
McLouth was "a little better today," Russell said, and he took the news as somewhat heartening. "It's still going to be day to day. Hopefully, we caught it early enough. Got to be real careful with this."
Russell said management is trying to avoid putting McLouth on the 15-day disabled list, where Doumit was placed this past week and reliever Craig Hansen today -- retroactive to April 20 -- with a bothersome right-shoulder and neck pain that actually began in spring training.
"I don't think that's in the future," Russell said of McLouth on the DL. "But we got to see how it responds. Those obliques, they're not fun in baseball [a game of twisting and torque when it comes to batting]. That's the worst thing about that injury, you can't treat it, it's got to heal on it's own."
Moments before tonight's game, the Pirates scratched shortstop Jack Wilson from the lineup -- with the same left-hand, middle-finger sprain that prevented him from playing April 17-18. Ramon Vazquez replaced him at shortstop.
Chuck Finder can be reached at email@example.com .