The Pittsburgh Pirates learned on Tuesday that their star center fielder, Andrew McCutchen, was going to be sidelined for a good amount of time with a rare rib injury. The Pirates decided not to put McCutchen on the disabled list at the time. It is now Friday, and the Pirates still have not added McCutchen to the disabled list; this is severely crippling their roster.
McCutchen’s injury is a fractured rib that was caused when he ripped some cartilage surrounding his rib cage. For anyone who knows about rib injuries, they are very painful and often times the injured person can’t even walk without being in pain. But the Pirates believe that McCutchen will be able to play earlier than 15 days. It’s just not realistic.
In the meantime, the Pirates also have an injury to second baseman Neil Walker. He has a bit of a minor injury, back soreness, but this has caused him to miss four of his last five games. And with Walker needing rest, or maybe a DL stint himself, he and McCutchen are both taking up roster spots. That means the Pirates are playing with a 23-man roster instead of the typical 25. And one of the players off of the bench is the backup catcher who is only used in an emergency, so the Pirates are actually playing with two bench options every night.
This is a big deal because Wednesday night, two pitchers, Jeff Locke and Tony Watson, had to hit for themselves in key situations because there was no one who could have come off the bench and hit for them. This did not hurt the Pirates that night or Thursday night because they scored several runs to win, but if they ever get stuck in an extra innings game, they will be in trouble because of the short bench they are willingly going with.
This is not the first time the Pirates have done this with players. They often wait days before they place players on the disabled list. Sometimes it is a good thing if it is a minor injury, but when someone fractures a rib, there is no chance that they are going to play in the next 15 days. The Pirates need to start using the disabled list as it was meant to be used. They need to place their injured players on the DL and call up much-needed reinforcements. No team will contend with pitchers hitting in key situations, and the Pirates are no exception.
Everyone in Pittsburgh would love to have McCutchen back in the next week, but it just isn’t realistic. It’s time for the Pirates to let go of their false hope, place him on the disabled list and find a short-term replacement.