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Mercer sits from lineup amid hitting woes

ST. LOUIS -- Left fielder Starling Marte was not the only slump-ridden Pirates player kept out of Friday night's series opener in Busch Stadium.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer made way for his forebear, Clint Barmes. Mercer's bat work through 22 games has been one of the young season's major disappointments, particularly his absence of power.

Mercer has only one extra-base hit (a double) among the total of 11 that depress his average to .183, with an OPS of .442.

In manager Clint Hurdle's view, the 27-year-old just needs to remember that it is a long season.

"He hasn't gotten out clean, and we have a tendency to try to make up for lost time," Hurdle said, "to try to get five hits in three at-bats.

"His No. 1 is, he's got to get started early [with the batter's box approach]. That's getting ready to hit, the preparation -- his first move to the ball, his trigger. It needs to be earlier."

There is also the obvious added pressure that comes with expectation. Last season, as a frequent contributor but, still, only Barmes' lieutenant, Mercer batted .285 with 32 extra-base hits (22 doubles, two triples, eight homers) giving him a .772 OPS.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.
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