Posted on April 20, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
In a single second Friday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost two everyday players to injury. Center fielder Starling Marte and shortstop Erik Gonzalez were involved in an ugly collision during Friday’s win over the Giants. On Saturday, the Pirates placed both on the Injured List.
Both Marte and Gonzalez were going after a soft fly ball in the 8th inning of Friday’s game when they crashed into one another. Neither caught the ball and both appeared to be in serious pain in the immediate aftermath of the play. After a few minutes, Gonzalez got to his feet and walked off the field on his own. Marte took a little longer to get up and was ultimately taken off the field on a cart.
“It’s unfortunate. You hate to see your men laying on the field,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after the game. “It was a yard sale out there. There’s hats. There’s gloves. That’s hard. We kind of got in a tough spot and ran into each other, both guys trying to make a play. That’s the hard part of it.”
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On Saturday, the Pirates announced that both players were being put on the IL. Marte was placed on the 10-day IL with an abdominal wall contusion. The Pirates haven’t given a timeframe on hos much time he’ll miss. Meanwhile, Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day IL with a broken clavicle, indicating he’ll end up missing a large chunk of the season.
Neither player has gotten off to a good start offensively this season. Marte, a two-time all-star is hitting just .203 with an OPS of .623. Gonzalez is hitting .216 with an OPS of .592. However, both are strong defensively have been important pieces on a Pirates team that began Saturday in first place in the NL Central. With both going on the IL, the Pirates have called up prospects Cole Tucker and Bryan Reynolds.
Tucker, a middle infielder, is the team’s 5th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. He figures to get most of the playing time at shortstop for the time being. Normally, Kevin Newman would supplant the injured Gonzalez, but he’s currently on the IL with a finger injury. While he’s never excelled offensively in the minors, Tucker was hitting .333 with an OPS of .994 in 13 games at triple-A this season.
As for Reynolds, he’s the team’s 8th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. With Gregory Polanco, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Corey Dickerson also on the IL, the Pirates are scrapping the bottom of the barrel of their outfield depth. Much like Tucker, Reynolds will be making his big league debut on Saturday and will immediately become an everyday player for the Pirates. He’ll be a step down from Marte defensively, although he’s gotten off to a hot start offensively at triple-A.
With the simultaneous loss of Marte and Gonzalez, on top of all of their other injuries, the Pirates will have to tread water until they start to get healthy. The Pirates have scored the 4th-fewest runs in the majors, and that’s unlikely to improve much with two more regulars lost to injury. However, Pittsburgh’s pitching staff is the best in baseball right now. With two veterans out of their lineup and two unproven rookies into the lineup, the pitching staff is under even more pressure to carry the Pirates for the time being and keep them competitive at the top of the NL Central.