PITTSBURGH -- After playing short-handed for a few days, the Pirates shuffled their roster on Saturday and sent two starters to the disabled list.Pittsburgh placed left fielder Corey Dickerson (strained left hamstring) and first baseman Josh Bell (left oblique strain) on the 10-day disabled list before Saturday's 5-0 win over
PITTSBURGH -- After playing short-handed for a few days, the Pirates shuffled their roster on Saturday and sent two starters to the disabled list.
Pittsburgh placed left fielder Corey Dickerson (strained left hamstring) and first baseman Josh Bell (left oblique strain) on the 10-day disabled list before Saturday's 5-0 win over the Mets at PNC Park. Dickerson's DL assignment is retroactive to Wednesday, the day after he exited a game early in Cleveland, so he is eligible to return on Aug. 4. Bell sustained his injury during Friday's 5-4 win over the Mets.
The Pirates called up rookie outfielder Austin Meadows (to replace Dickerson) and corner infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna (to replace Bell) from Triple-A Indianapolis. Osuna started at first base on Saturday night against Jacob deGrom. Meadows was available off the bench.
Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said the Pirates are "optimistic" that Dickerson and Bell will only have to serve the minimum stint on the disabled list.
The Pirates evaluated Dickerson's status over the last three days while playing short-handed -- they were also without center fielder Starling Marte on Thursday and Friday -- before finally putting him on the DL. Dickerson said on Friday his injury was minor, not even a Grade 1 strain, and took batting practice before Saturday's game. Tomczyk said Dickerson is still not able to sprint "full-out," and the Pirates want him to be able to play without reservations.
"The type of player Corey is, he wanted to play through this. He tried to play through it," Tomczyk said. "But the style that he plays, it probably wasn't the best option for him to try to push through this and make something minor into something potentially long-term."
Dependability has been Bell's defining characteristic since he made his Major League debut in 2016. Bell played in 104 of Pittsburgh's first 105 games this season. Since the start of last season, only Freddy Galvis and Joey Votto have played in more games than Bell (263).
The injury comes at a particularly bad time for Bell, who finally heated up after a slow start at the plate. After a conversation with manager Clint Hurdle at Wrigley Field, Bell hit .320/.413/.461 with 15 RBIs, 21 walks and only 23 strikeouts over his next 41 games. Tomczyk said Bell sustained the injury on the swing before he grounded out on Friday.
"We're optimistic that it could be the minimum," Tomczyk said.
Until then, the Pirates will presumably cover first base by committee with Osuna, veteran infielder David Freese and super-utility man Sean Rodriguez. Freese and Rodriguez manned first on Friday, and Osuna got the start on Saturday. Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has recently fielded grounders at first base as the Pirates look for ways to get his bat in the lineup, could also factor into the mix with Elias Diaz continuing to start regularly behind the plate.
Osuna, in his fourth stint with the Pirates this season, entered Saturday hitting .196 (9-for-46) with two homers and seven RBIs in 23 games for the Pirates this season. He hit .317 with five homers and 40 RBIs in 61 games for Indianapolis.
The Pirates will presumably give Meadows regular playing time while Dickerson is sidelined, although Jordan Luplow started in left field on Saturday. Meadows hit .298/.333/.477 during his first stint with the Pirates, but he began to slump -- and his playing time diminished -- as Dickerson, Marte and Gregory Polanco hit their strides at the plate. GM Neal Huntington admitted the Bucs should have sent Meadows to Triple-A sooner than they did, rather than letting him linger on the bench.
The Pirates did get some good news on the injury front, however. After sitting out the last two days, Marte (left hand contusion) returned to the starting lineup on Saturday.
"He'll be ready for the task. You can see the last couple days his angst at not being able to play," Hurdle said. "He was playing as well as we've ever seen him play at the Major League level the past few weeks."
Around the horn
• The Tigers claimed left-handed reliever Josh Smoker off waivers from the Pirates. Smoker was designated for assignment on Monday when the Bucs added Casey Sadler to their roster.
• Freese did not start on Saturday after playing five games in a row, a stretch capped by his five-RBI night in the Pirates' 5-4, walk-off win over the Mets on Friday, but he did drive in a run with a pinch-hit groundout in the Bucs' 5-0 win. Freese is enjoying his best offensive season since 2012, but the Pirates have been mindful of his playing time after wearing the 35-year-old down by playing him every day for extended stretches each of the past two years.
"With the way we're rolling right now, I don't want to push it," Hurdle said. "The way he's going right now, I prefer to be smart with it. … We need to keep him right where he's at right now. He's in a very good place."
• Josh Harrison also sat out on Saturday, and Adam Frazier went 3-for-4 while starting at second base. The Pirates are following a two-on, one-off plan with Harrison to ease him back from the hamstring injury he sustained on July 15.
• The Pirates on Saturday hosted a Miracle League Fantasy Camp for athletes with special needs at the Miracle League of Southwestern Pennsylvania at Graham Park in Cranberry Township. Pittsburgh's players and coaches, including Hurdle, took part in the camp to provide players with special needs the opportunity to play baseball and perform drills in an environment similar to MLB's camps and clinics.
"What a fantastic program," Hurdle said.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.