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Bucs lineup vs. Cubs missing one-third of regulars

Rodriguez, Hart added to face Cubs' Wood with Mercer recovering

PITTSBURGH -- The Bucs went out Tuesday night to try to even their series with the Cubs by countering something new -- the first left-handed starter to face them this season, Travis Wood -- with something different.

Manager Clint Hurdle's starting lineup lacked one-third of his regulars. One was by necessity -- Jordy Mercer, still on the rebound from Sunday's pitch off his chest, stayed put and was again replaced at short by Jung Ho Kang.

Two others were by choice. Right fielder Gregory Polanco and first baseman Pedro Alvarez, the only two lefty-hitting regulars, made way for Sean Rodriguez and Corey Hart, respectively.

Despite taking off a second consecutive game, Mercer continued to recover encouragingly from being struck in the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Brewers. He felt comfortable loosening up before the team took the field for pregame workouts, during which he planned to try some throwing.

"My range of motion doesn't seem limited. It's just sore," Mercer said. "Everything we do involves the core, which basically is where it got me."

The battery of tests given to Mercer indicated no structural or cardiac damage. They included an X-ray and two different MRIs, one focused on his heart.

"So I got to see my own heart. That was interesting," Mercer said.

From Mercer's heart to the Pirates' Hart -- he batted cleanup to exploit his career .865 OPS versus southpaws. Hart also went in 4-for-12 off Wood, who has been one of the toughest lefties for Alvarez to handle (1-for-18, with seven strikeouts).

Video: [email protected]: Hart belts a pinch-hit, two-run homer in 7th

"Both have had looks [at Wood] with some success," Hurdle said of Hart and Rodriguez. "So we liked the matchups."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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