Rib fracture sends McCutchen to DL
Outfielder eligible to return on Aug. 19; Sadler recalled for Bucs' bullpen
PITTSBURGH -- In his time fastened to the Pirates' bench, Andrew McCutchen has had a lot of smiles while dancing, juggling or joking with his manager that he was available to pinch-hit.
On Monday, the Bucs ensured the reigning National League Most Valuable Player would be sidelined for at least another eight days, placing McCutchen on the 15-day disabled list with an avulsion fracture in the 11th rib on his left side. The move is retroactive to Aug. 4. The Pirates called up right-hander Casey Sadler to take McCutchen's spot on the 25-man roster.
It's the first DL trip of McCutchen's five-year Major League career, and while the star center fielder has tried to make the most of his time on the bench, he didn't sugarcoat his feelings about being removed from the active roster.
"It [stinks]," McCutchen said, "because you never want to go on the DL. I'm just being honest. That's never the plan. The thing is, the injury is so uncommon, in a sense, it makes me feel OK about it. At least I know, I'm pretty much one of the only ones who could do something that I did."
The injury occurred last Sunday when McCutchen took a strong swing against the D-backs, and he generated enough torque that a piece of costochondral cartilage fractured from his rib.
The team had kept McCutchen on the active roster for the past week, initially hoping there was a chance McCutchen could be ready to return before 15 days were up. The Bucs decided their best bet was to place him on the DL on Monday, knowing there are a lot of tests he has to pass before returning.
"He's got to face velocity, he's got to face spin, how about a check swing, a slide, all these other things," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We got to the point we felt best suited, he felt best suited, based on the conversation we had to make the move today."
McCutchen was on the field at PNC Park on Monday, playing catch for the third straight day and shagging a few fly balls during batting practice. He has also taken swings in the batting cage.
Pittsburgh's training staff will continue to add to McCutchen's recovery program, but given the rarity of the injury, he said it's difficult to predict a timeline for when he can do certain activities.
"It's all based upon how I feel," McCutchen said. "I've continued to improve every single day, so that's good to see. I feel good [Monday], hopefully I can wake up tomorrow and feel better."
A four-time All-Star, McCutchen is putting up another superior season, posting a slash line of .311/.411/.536. He has 17 homers, 17 stolen bases, 67 RBIs and 68 walks in 109 games. McCutchen had missed just 32 starts in his five-year Major League career entering 2014. The Pirates have gone 4-3 without him since the injury.
McCutchen, who could be activated as soon as Aug. 19, is not the only banged-up Pirate -- Neil Walker was out of the lineup for the eighth time in nine games on Monday with back tightness. The second baseman -- who pinch-hit Saturday night was also a DL candidate, but the move to shelve McCutchen makes it less likely Walker will end up there.
The addition of Sadler gets the Pirates' bullpen back to seven members after they designated Ernesto Frieri for assignment on Friday.