The Pirates avoided a scare when they learned Tuesday that leadoff hitter and starting left fielder Starling Marte would not need surgery to repair a strained ligament in his right hand.
But they didn't get great news, either.
Marte cannot swing a bat for at least two weeks, he learned Tuesday after meeting with hand specialist Tom Graham at the Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Graham ruled out surgery, which was considered a possibility after Marte met with doctors Monday in Pittsburgh.
"It was good news," he said.
But the prognosis is worse than the Pirates originally anticipated. The Pirates waited four days before placing Marte on the 15-day disabled list, originally believing the injury was manageable.
"It needs time to get the swelling out of there," general manager Neal Huntington said. "It needs time to let that sprain heal."
In Marte's absence, Jose Tabata will continue as the Pirates' leadoff hitter. Entering Tuesday, Tabata was hitting .258 as the leadoff hitter. He is 3 for 3 in stolen bases -- a far cry from the 35 stolen bases Marte has in 48 chances this year.
"We don't have anybody that can re-create that spark," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Tabata also will see most of the action in left field.
The Pirates have used Marte's speed as a weapon this year and will look to be more creative in his absence. Hurdle said the Pirates will likely look to hit-and-run more often to move players into scoring position and out of double-play opportunities.
Marte is eligible to come off the disabled list Monday, but it appears it will be at least one more week until he is physically ready to resume full baseball activities.
"There's no real efficient time frame out there for us," Huntington said. "It's all going to be contingent on how quickly that swelling gets out of there."
Fall League prospects
Minor league shortstop Alen Hanson highlights a group of five Pirates minor leaguers who will represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League this year.
Hanson will be joined by fellow infielder Gift Ngoepe, pitchers Zach Thornton and Tyler Waldron and outfielder Alex Dickerson on the Scottsdale Scorpions roster.
The Pirates also will send two minor league pitchers, determined at a later date.
Hanson, 20, entered the season as the team's No. 5 prospect, according to Baseball America. He started the year with Class A Bradenton and is hitting .220 in 28 games since being promoted to Class AA Altoona.
Ngoepe, 23, is making his second appearance in the Arizona Fall League. He started the season in Altoona before being sent back to Bradenton, where he is hitting .253 in 22 games.
Skirting the shirt
Apparently, the baseball operations department did not talk to the marketing department Tuesday at Citi Field.
On the day the Mets traded Marlon Byrd to the Pirates, they were supposed to give away Marlon Byrd T-shirts to any fan who had purchased a special ticket as part of the team's T-shirt Tuesday promotion.
To compensate fans, the Mets still offered the Byrd T-shirts in addition to another shirt giveaway from earlier this season. Those fans also will receive two tickets to a September game, according to ESPN New York.pirates
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino.