WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Jacob Stallings found out Saturday morning the Pirates would need a 26th man on Sunday night. Less than 24 hours later, he was on his way to the Little League World Series and, eventually, historic Bowman Field for MLB's first Little League Classic."I was excited," said Stallings,
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Jacob Stallings found out Saturday morning the Pirates would need a 26th man on Sunday night. Less than 24 hours later, he was on his way to the Little League World Series and, eventually, historic Bowman Field for MLB's first Little League Classic.
"I was excited," said Stallings, called up for a day from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Major League Baseball allowed the Pirates and Cardinals to expand their rosters by one player on Sunday due to the unique mid-series travel for the special event. Rather than add another reliever or outfielder, the Pirates elected to carry a third catcher behind starter Chris Stewart and backup Elias Diaz.
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"We didn't feel we needed the other [bullpen] arm. We do have another bat. That's what it turned out to be," manager Clint Hurdle said. "If we need to hit for Stewart, need to run for Stewart, Diaz can be the pinch-hitter and Stallings can catch. We felt we were OK, with the way the game went [Saturday], that our arms were in a good place."
The trip had some personal significance for Stallings. He made his professional debut against the Short-Season Class A Crosscutters at Bowman Field on June 18, 2012. His State College Spikes returned to Williamsport around this time five years ago, during the Little League World Series, but the closest he came was sitting in the traffic it caused.
"To go over there today was really cool," Stallings said. "Seeing the stadium, doing both fields. Got to see the hill [beyond center field at Lamade Stadium]. All my friends texted me from seeing me on TV. It's a really cool event. It was cool to experience it."
Stallings apparently joined the team too late to get a special nickname on the back of his Players Weekend jersey but said it wouldn't have been anything too creative: "Stalls." He was thrilled to check out the renovated, upgraded ballpark -- even if it's only for one day.
"It looks a lot different from what I remember," Stallings said. "When I heard they were playing a game here, I was like, 'How are they going to play a game at that park?' They've done a great job with it. It's beautiful."
Cervelli on the mend
Catcher Francisco Cervelli, out since Aug. 13 due to left wrist inflammation, said he plans to resume swinging a bat on Monday and hopes to be ready to return at some point next week.
Cervelli has been sidelined by recurring pain that impairs his ability to grip the bat and receive low pitches. The pain became too much to play through last weekend, when he asked to come out of the Pirates' game in Toronto.
Cervelli, who is eligible to return on Thursday, has been playing catch while on the disabled list and did so again Sunday afternoon.
Safe at home
Right-hander Gerrit Cole did not make the trip to Williamsport because he is scheduled to start Monday night against the Dodgers at PNC Park. By staying in Pittsburgh, Cole avoided making two flights the day before he faces the Majors' best team.
Home away from home
The Pirates were the home team Sunday night at historic Bowman Field. It was the first home game played by the Pirates at a neutral site since Sept. 22, 1890, when they played the New York Giants in Wheeling, W.V.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.