Pirates notebook: Pirates shuffle pitching staff by placing two on DL, recalling three |

Pirates notebook: Pirates shuffle pitching staff by placing two on DL, recalling three

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates reliever George Kontos smiles as he walks from the dugout to the bullpen at the start of game against the Tigers Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon delivers during the first inning against the Dodgers Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at PNC Park.

One of the few constants about the Pirates this season has been change, and it touched down in the bullpen Tuesday.

With relievers Juan Nicasio and A.J. Schugel declared unavailable for Tuesday’s game by manager Clint Hurdle, the Pirates put two others on the disabled list and sent right-handed reliever Dovydas Neverauskas to Indianapolis.

Placed on the 10-day disabled list were right-handed relief pitchers George Kontos (right groin strain) and Joaquin Benoit (left knee inflammation). Kontos’ inactivity is retroactive to Sunday.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (quad strain) remains on the disabled list and isn’t eligible to rejoin the team until Monday.

Brought up from Indianapolis to fill the void were left-hander Steven Brault and right-handers Johnny Barbato and Edgar Santana.

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Brault, mainly a starter in Indianapolis, has made three relief appearances (eight innings) with the Pirates this season.

Nicasio, who leads all MLB pitchers in appearances (62), and Schugel likely are out for only one game.

Kontos said he tried to warm up in the 10th inning of the Pirates’ 6-5 loss to the Dodgers on Monday, but he didn’t feel right.

“I still felt a little twinge down there,” he said before he was placed on the disabled list. “I just felt I’m no good to the team or myself if I’m not able to pitch like myself and execute the way I normally do.

“Something as minor as this — just a few days of rest — could turn into something pretty serious that could cost the rest of the season. Four or five days is better than four or five weeks.

“I’ve pushed things before, my elbow being one of them, and I ended up having Tommy John (surgery). I know my body well enough now and been through enough in my career where I think something that’s an ache that you may not want to pitch through is a lot better than trying to be a hero.”

‘Adapt, improvise, overcome’

When Hurdle spoke to reporters before Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the personnel changes had not been announced. Without getting into specifics, he admitted there have been several games this season that “have been hard to finish.”

“You set things up. You make plans and then you learn to adapt, improvise and overcome.” he said. “We’ve had to do that not so much with the rotation. We’ve had to do it with the lineup, and we’ve had to do with the bullpen.”

Marte’s recovery

Before Tuesday’s game, Starling Marte was hitting .409 through the first five games of this homestand. Hurdle credited the surge to his “very professional manner.” “The thing I like is he didn’t get outside himself (during his early struggles after returning from an 80-game suspension),” he said. “He didn’t try to overcompensate. He didn’t try to create bat speed. He just stayed in the box, kept seeing pitches and fighting pitches off, trying to get his timing down, and it was hard and he’s gotten to a much better spot.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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