Notebook: Injury forces Sanders out
CHICAGO – Jack Wilson didn’t start Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs, and in the latest injury development, neither did right fielder Reggie Sanders.
Sanders joined Wilson in the trainer’s room yesterday with soreness in his right hamstring. Because the Pirates have a day off Thursday, Sanders is unlikely to play today in the series finale against the Cubs.
“It’s nothing that I can pinpoint,” Sanders said when asked on what play he specifically hurt his hamstring. “It was more of a gradual type of thing.”
Sanders said he noticed the hamstring tightening up Friday night when the Pirates played in rainy conditions against the St. Louis Cardinals. Sanders didn’t return after the fifth inning, but he played all nine innings Saturday and Sunday. He was not in the lineup Monday against the Cubs because he didn’t match up well against Kerry Wood.
With Sanders on the shelf, Rob Mackowiak made his second consecutive start in right field.
Wilson, meanwhile, did not start for the second day in a row because of tightness in his neck and soreness in his lower back. He arrived at Wrigley Field at 1:30 p.m. to receive treatment and took batting practice. He was scratched from Monday’s game about an hour before the first pitch.
Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon chose to play it safe with Wilson, who likely may have sat on the bench even if he was healthy. Wilson was 2 for 21 in his career against Cubs starter Matt Clement.
“Given his numbers, it makes sense to let him fully recover by giving him another day off,” McClendon said.
Abraham Nunez started at shortstop again yesterday, while Jeff Reboulet started at second base.
NO REST FOR THE HOT HITTER
McClendon has tried to make a concerted effort to give Kenny Lofton’s 35-year-old body some time off. But it has been difficult with Lofton amassing the longest hitting streak in the National League this season.
Lofton started last night for the 17th consecutive game. He has sat out just two games since beginning his 24-game hitting streak April 29 in San Diego.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” McClendon said.
The streak wasn’t the reason McClendon didn’t ask Lofton to bunt in the eighth inning Monday. With the Pirates leading 1-0, Josh Fogg drew a leadoff walk against left-hander Phil Norton. On a 2-0 count, McClendon contemplated putting on the bunt sign but decided against it. Lofton singled to extend his hitting streak to 24 games and the Pirates went on to score nine runs in the innings.
“In all likelihood, Kenny wasn’t going to hit into a double play,” he said. “He’s awfully hard to double up.”
Lofton, in fact, hasn’t grounded into a double play in 184 at-bats this season.
A STEP BACK IN TIME
The Pirates aren’t just wearing throwback uniforms June 3 when they play the Boston Red Sox, they are doing their best to turn back time. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first World Series, the Pirates are incorporating touches from the past.
Game day employees and grounds crew members will be outfitted with suspenders, bowler hats and bow ties. Public address announcer Tim DeBacco will give batter introductions and game updates from atop the dugout with a megaphone.
The scoreboard will not feature any color or moving video. Absent also will be in-game entertainment such as the Pirate Parrot, Bucco Brigade, Pierogie Race, T-Shirt Toss and Hot Dog Shoot. No music will be played between innings.
The first pitch will be thrown by Leslie Wagner-Blair, granddaughter of Pirates Hall of Famer Honus Wagner. She will throw it from the stands as was the custom in 1903.
TAKING THE HILL
The Pirates will have a better idea today whether right-hander Kip Wells will be able to make his start Saturday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals. Wells, who has been bothered by a blister on his right middle finger, will throw off the mound today.
The blister has been healing quickly, so if Wells doesn’t have a setback today, he will make his scheduled start. If not, the Pirates could have Josh Fogg pitch Saturday on his regular fifth day and push Wells back until Sunday.
BACK TO NASHVILLE
Right-handed reliever Pat Mahomes cleared waivers yesterday and accepted his assignment to Class AAA Nashville. Mahomes spent nine days with the Pirates and made two appearances before he was outrighted to the minors Sunday.