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Evans (concussion, fractured jaw) out for '20

Pirates recall Osuna, option Mears, add Waddell
@adamdberry
August 9, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- The morning after Phillip Evans left Saturday’s game on a stretcher following a collision with right fielder Gregory Polanco, the Pirates revealed that Evans sustained a concussion, a fractured jaw and “injuries to the face and mouth.” The Pirates placed Evans on the 45-day injured list, effectively ending

PITTSBURGH -- The morning after Phillip Evans left Saturday’s game on a stretcher following a collision with right fielder Gregory Polanco, the Pirates revealed that Evans sustained a concussion, a fractured jaw and “injuries to the face and mouth.”

The Pirates placed Evans on the 45-day injured list, effectively ending his season. Evans is expected to make a full recovery, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said.

Evans temporarily lost consciousness after being struck in the face by Polanco’s right elbow while trying to make a catch in foul territory during the Pirates’ 11-5 loss to the Tigers on Saturday. Evans was loaded onto a stretcher and immediately left the ballpark in an ambulance to be evaluated by the club’s doctors with Allegheny Health Network.

Tomczyk said Evans is still dealing with a “significant amount of swelling” around his fractured jaw, and that swelling must subside before doctors can diagnose any further injuries he might have sustained. Evans returned to the ballpark on Sunday morning and met with manager Derek Shelton. Shelton and general manager Ben Cherington called Evans’ mother on Saturday night to check on her, and Shelton also fielded a call from Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, who was concerned about Evans.

Tomczyk and Shelton both said Evans was in touch with his teammates throughout his time in the hospital and remains in good spirits, all things considered.

"If this was early in [a 162-game] season, based on what we know now -- and again it's still in the evaluation process -- there would be an outside chance that he could return later in the season,” Tomczyk said. “I know Phil wants to return now. That just shows you the mentality of Phil, the competitor that he is. He wants to be around his teammates. He wants to play the game that he loves, that he was off to a great start from a baseball perspective. He wants to play.

“Most important, this man will recover. We fully expect that, anticipate that, and he will be back playing baseball."

Evans’ frightening injury and the Pirates’ desperate need for available pitching led them to shuffle their roster before Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers at PNC Park.

They essentially replaced Evans by recalling corner infielder/outfielder José Osuna. They also optioned right-hander Nick Mears, who made his Major League debut in Saturday’s 11-5 loss, to the alternate training site and selected the contract of left-hander Brandon Waddell.

Osuna was optioned to their alternate training site when rosters shrank from 30 to 28 players on Thursday. They were able to recall him within 10 days, because he is taking the roster spot of an injured player. Osuna is capable of manning first base, third base and the corner-outfield spots, all positions Evans played as he established himself as an everyday player for the Pirates.

“Being able to add his versatility back is really nice,” Shelton said of Osuna.

The addition of Waddell shows just how tenuous Pittsburgh’s pitching situation is. The Pirates added Waddell to their 60-man pool of available players on Friday, so he only spent two days at their satellite camp at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pa.

Shelton said Waddell, 26, was able to keep pitching while he was away from the team. Now, the 2015 Draft pick will be in the big leagues -- and he might have to pitch on his first day up.

“We’re going through pitchers fairly quickly. We needed innings,” Shelton said. “He had been stretched out, so he is going to be available to pitch and is stretched out.”

The Pirates scratched right-hander Joe Musgrove from his scheduled start against the Tigers on Sunday due to right ankle soreness. Instead, they gave the nod to lefty Steven Brault, who faced six Detroit hitters and threw 32 pitches without recording an out in Friday’s series opener. Brault hasn’t pitched more than three innings in an outing this season.

On Saturday, veteran lefty Derek Holland threw 112 pitches in five-plus innings despite giving up four home runs to the first five batters he faced. The Pirates used three relievers after him, including Mears, and still wound up having to send catcher John Ryan Murphy to the mound in the ninth inning.

The Pirates are being cautious with their relievers due to the dramatic uptick in pitching injuries around the league. Their staff has been hit particularly hard by injuries and absences, as they are without starters Jameson Taillon (August 2019 Tommy John surgery), Chris Archer (neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome) and Mitch Keller (left oblique strain) along with relievers Keone Kela (working his way back from COVID-19), Kyle Crick (right shoulder strain), Clay Holmes (right forearm strain), Michael Feliz (right forearm/elbow strain) and Nick Burdi (right elbow injury).

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.