Pirates notebook: McCutchen back in the lineup


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The Pirates outfield was closer to normal Sunday night, as Andrew McCutchen returned to center field after missing a night with "left leg soreness."

McCutchen did not disclose the specifics of the problem, but said there was no thought to taking a second night off.

"None. I didn't want to take [Saturday] off," he said before Sunday's game. "Whatever it is that helps the team and not hurt myself, I guess. That's really what it's all about. I'm ready to go. Ready to try to keep this momentum going."

Left fielder Starling Marte -- who left Saturday night's game with back stiffness -- was not back in the lineup.

Manager Clint Hurdle did not expect Marte to be available off the bench.

Right fielder Travis Snider returned after serving a two-game suspension for his role in last month's brawl with Milwaukee. Fourth outfielder Jose Tabata slotted into Marte's spot in left.

The Pirates were forced to get creative Saturday night when Marte left with his injury, slotting first baseman Gaby Sanchez, and later shortstop Jordy Mercer into right field.

General manager Neal Huntington said Marte is dealing with back "spasms" and "tightness" and it's unclear how long he will need to recover.

"Everything we have right now is just some spasms and some tightness that will work itself out. He needs a little bit of downtime," Huntington said.

He said it's premature to discuss the probability of Marte going on the disabled list.

"We're still early in the process, but we do feel like if we take care of it now, we can knock this thing out," Huntington said. "But injuries are gray areas and we're doing the best to make sure we give him the necessary rest to keep him active and get him out there as soon as we can."

The club recalled outfielder Jaff Decker from Class AAA Indianapolis. He has played left and center field for the Indians this spring.

Decker said he was pulled from his game early Saturday night and drove the five-plus hours to Pittsburgh Sunday morning with his family.

He heard about the interesting outfield in Pittsburgh as it was playing out.

"We heard during the game what was going on. I saw Mercer's in right? Gaby's in right? What's going on?" Decker said.

Decker, who bats left-handed, has hit .238 with nine doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs in 30 games for Indianapolis.

"I made a little adjustment at the end of April and things have been really clicking for the past two weeks," he said. "Swing feels good, playing defense well, just going with the flow right now.

Decker made his major league debut in 2013 with the Padres and played in 13 games, going 4 for 26.

The Pirates optioned infielder Brent Morel -- who did not play in his short stint -- back to Indianapolis.

In the spotlight

ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since July 28, 1996, a time gap Huntington said he would like to never see again.

"We're working hard to find out how we get these guys to come back a handful more times," Huntington said. "It's a nice step forward for the organization, nice recognition. We've got to continue doing the things that warrant bringing them back."

Hollywood story

Actor Jon Hamm and Pirates pitching prospect Rinku Singh were in town Sunday night promoting the new Disney move "Million Dollar Arm."

The movie is based on agent J.B. Bernstein, played by Hamm, who travels to India and discovers Singh and fellow pitcher Dinesh Patel for his reality show competition called "Million Dollar Arm."

Both players were signed by the Pirates in 2008. Singh was with Class A West Virginia before he recently had Tommy John surgery, but plans to start throwing again in August.

Patel is out of baseball and back in India. Singh said Patel is doing community work, teaching baseball to children and finishing his schooling.

He added it has been an amazing journey.

"When you are living a big dream, you are going to do anything or everything to make that happen," Singh said. "Before when I first signed with the Pirates, for me it was kind of boring. I thought I'm never going to reach the level where guys are. Now? I'm crazy about this. I'm really crazy about it. I want it to happen."

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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