Pirates notebook: Marte goes on DL with concussion

The Pirates placed outfielder Starling Marte on the seven-day concussion disabled list Wednesday after being diagnosed with a concussion after being hit by a pitch Friday against the Rockies.

The decision came after several days of evaluating Marte, who has shown symptoms of a concussion since Friday but has, at times, felt well enough to play.

Marte sat out Saturday, pinch-hit Sunday and then started Monday. He didn't play Tuesday because he was not feeling well.

After an evaluation Wednesday, it was determined he needed to be placed on the DL.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said before a game Wednesday night -- Marte was officially placed on the disabled list shortly before the first pitch -- that Marte's condition, as is any head injury, was a serious matter and was in the hands of team doctors and trainers.

"He wasn't available to us [Tuesday]," Hurdle said. "You go ahead and you try to play, then two days later you may get that fall back, it is just not uncommon. That is when, obviously, your antenna has to go up a higher degree and you continue to go through testing and pay attention to the words of people with much more education and much more experience with [concussions].

"Society is different now, we have more education [on concussions] and much more information that has gotten the attention of players to become more honest self-evaluators when it comes to the symptoms of concussions."

Morel called up

The Pirates also announced that infielder Brent Morel was called up from Class AAA Indianapolis to replace Marte on the 25-man roster.

Morel was hitting .246 with 14 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, 37 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 73 games with Indianapolis. He also hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games with the Indians, going 20-for-54 (.370) with 10 RBIs and 15 runs scored.

This is the second time this season that the Pirates have called up Morel. He was with them from May 9-11.

Alvarez ailing

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez felt some left knee discomfort before a game Wednesday night and was not in the lineup. Josh Harrison started in his place.

Alvarez tweaked his knee Tuesday night when he hit a double in a win against the Dodgers and had to be removed from the game.

He was evaluated Wednesday and his status was unknown before the game, but Hurdle said the team would be cautious in its approach.

"We will have to see if he is a potential player off the bench ... ," Hurdle said of Alvarez. "The comment that I gathered from the trainers is that he felt [the tweak in his knee] coming out of the box."

Cole progress slow

Pitcher Gerrit Cole, who is on the 15-day disabled list with right lat soreness, threw 70 pitches Wednesday in a four-inning simulated game.

Cole said after throwing that he felt good and that he was only supposed to throw 60 pitches but went 10 more with no issues. He said he likely would be taking things slow in terms of when he would return to the rotation.

He said he was open to -- and probably needed -- at least one rehabilitation start somewhere in the minors because the Pirates are in a pennant race and every game matters. He also said the team doesn'‍t have the luxury of running him out there to figure things out and then losing a game because he is rusty or misses some pitches.

"It is just important that he is out there throwing," Hurdle said. "This is the first time he has gotten out there and fired with some adrenaline going. But it is step one of a multi-step program."

Better hitters

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said one glaring improvement in the Pirates offense is that they have gotten much better at hitting curveballs. This was an area that needed improvement and Hurdle said it has been satisfying to watch the hard work the players have put in finally pay off.

"For a long time that was an offensive rock in our shoe [hitting curveballs], but we have gotten better, we have improved," Hurdle said. "The one thing that this group has been very good about is, you can'‍t turn away from and ignore hard numbers.

"When we showed them the numbers, the pitch frequency, the percentages -- we had to continue to work through spring training and through work in the cage and all offseason and even getting the breaking ball machine out there -- we have worked at it."

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise First Published July 23, 2014 12:00 AM

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