ST. LOUIS -- A string of recent injuries forced the Pirates to make a roster move Sunday to add some depth.
The Pirates placed left fielder Starling Marte on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique and recalled Jose Tabata.
Marte tweaked his oblique while running the bases in the fifth inning of the Pirates' 5-4 loss Saturday to the Cardinals. Manager Clint Hurdle said the team was having a difficult time evaluating Marte's injury because he said he was sorer a day later.
"This is not a one-day deal," Hurdle said. "That's our area of concern."
The Pirates have not started second baseman Neil Walker since Wednesday, when he sustained a dislocated right pinky. Walker did not go on the disabled list, which meant the Pirates have been short a bench spot, though he did pinch-hit Sunday.
Marte, who made his major league debut July 26, was hitting .253 with a .287 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot in 23 games.
Tabata was hitting .297 in 41 games for Class AAA Indianapolis. He had 15 stolen bases and a .353 on-base percentage.
Hurdle said reports on Tabata from Pirates player development staff have been encouraging.
"The game, the ability, the energy, they've all come back to a very good place for him," Hurdle said.
He was optioned to Indianapolis early in July after he struggled to a .230 batting average and .295 on-base percentage in the first three months of the season.
Tabata, who signed a six-year, $15 million contract in 2011, has been criticized for a perceived lack of hustle on the bases and in the field.
Hitting leadoff Sunday, Tabata went 2 for 7 with a double.
"I'm here today with a new mentality, feeling strong, ready to go play the game," he said.
The Pirates are expected to place infielder Jordy Mercer on the paternity leave list today as he travels to Oklahoma to be with his wife, Kasey, for the birth of their son, Maverick.
He prefers that list to the disabled list -- which he faced after being hit by a Jason Motte fastball Saturday on his right wrist.
"I got lucky more than anything," Mercer said. "It could have been bone. It could have been serious. But it's just bruised."
He had his wrist wrapped Sunday but won't use it as an excuse to get out of diaper-changing duties, he said. He's actually looking forward to the responsibility.
"I'm kind of excited," he said.
As he leaves, the Pirates are expecting to activate right-handed reliever Chad Qualls from bereavement leave.
After using a six-man rotation for two weeks, the Pirates announced they are moving Kevin Correia to the bullpen again and sticking with a five-man starting pitching staff.
But while Hurdle could not guarantee Correia would start again this season, he indicated it was a probability.
"As we move forward, we're trying to figure this out the best we can," Hurdle said.
Left-handed starter Erik Bedard, who has struggled the past two months, has put together a few solid starts at PNC Park -- and his next start would be at home, which factored into Hurdle's decision. Correia might be called on to start in case of injury or if another starter is not performing, Hurdle said.
Correia did not want to talk about the move, saying he already discussed pitching out of the bullpen. The Pirates removed Correia from the rotation for about two weeks after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez. But Hurdle said Correia took the move well and said Correia indicated he wanted to help the team.
"We've talked about things in life," Hurdle said. "You don't have to like them, you just need to perform."
First Published August 20, 2012 4:00 AM