The Pirates sent third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes to the 10-day injured list Sunday, leaving the club without their best player over the next few series.
Manager Derek Shelton said that X-rays performed on Hayes’ left wrist after Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Cubs came back negative. However, an MRI showed some inflammation in his wrist, which he injured on a swing in the first inning.
Early on Sunday, the Pirates believed that Hayes could operate day to day, but after performing pregame baseball activities, Shelton said that they decided it was best to make the IL move. He said that there was no change in Hayes’ diagnosis of left wrist inflammation, but it became a little more discomforting than expected.
“Today, when we ran him through some baseball activities, it was just the squeezing of the glove,” Shelton said of the issue. “So because of that, we decided that 10 days was more worthwhile.”
Hayes was replaced at third base Sunday by Phillip Evans, the Pirates’ main utility man, with Kevin Newman batting in Hayes’ No. 2 spot in the order. The Pirates activated Wilmer Difo to provide further infield depth, while right-hander Tyler Bashlor was designated for assignment as a corresponding move.
Evans and Difo are just a couple of the handful of options Pittsburgh has for a fill-in at third base, a group which also includes Colin Moran and Erik Gonzalez on the active roster, and veteran corner infielder Todd Frazier at the Pirates’ alternate training site.
It’s an unfortunate break for Hayes, who figures to be a frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Hayes began his first full MLB season with a two-run homer in the first inning of Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Cubs on Opening Day, quickly showing that he was primed to build on his month-long breakout after he was called up in September 2020.
Before his appearance Saturday, the last time that Luis Oviedo had thrown a professional inning was in 2019 at Class A Lake County in the Cleveland organization.
The Indians’ farmhand was struggling mightily at the time. After drawing eyes in 2018 with a 2.05 ERA in 11 starts across two Class A levels, Oviedo’s ERA ballooned to 5.38 in Lake County. Still, the Pirates chose to take a chance on him by trading cash to the Mets in exchange for Oviedo after the Rule 5 Draft last year.
Oviedo, who was the Indians’ No. 10 prospect in 2018, said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez that it was certainly a “big jump” from Class A ball to the Majors in two years’ time, but he felt prepared.
“I look back at my offseason in Venezuela, the guys I was pitching against [and] the teammates that I had that were pouring into me and equipping me,” Oviedo said. “The ways that I was trying to train myself and equip myself mentally and physically for an opportunity like this; I’m just grateful that everything worked out for me.”
It worked out flawlessly. Oviedo induced groundouts from Jason Heyward and David Bote before recording his first Major League strikeout on a curveball to Ian Happ that had the Cubs’ batter tossing his bat on the follow-through.
“When I think about the whole entire outing, it was just an emotional place for me, especially because this is a dream I’ve had since I was a child,” Oviedo said. “It was very special to me.”
The Pirates activated Kyle Crick from the COVID injured list Sunday. He was placed on the list as a formality of his intake process after going on paternity leave.
In a corresponding move, right-hander Wil Crowe was optioned to the alternate training site.
Crick pitched one inning in the Pirates’ 4-3 loss to the Cubs, allowing a leadoff walk to Ian Happ before retiring the next three batters, including Willson Contreras on a strikeout.