Newman out for season (knee contusion)

September 21st, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- After being hit on the left knee by a 97-mph fastball on Saturday night, Pirates infielder 's season is over.

The Pirates placed Newman on the 10-day injured list before Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals at PNC Park. The club announced that Newman sustained a contusion to the peroneal nerve of his left knee. Manager Derek Shelton said Newman’s X-rays revealed no fractures, however, so the injury isn’t a long-term concern.

“It got him solid. It was loud,” Shelton said. “He’s had a little bit of pain, and he's going to be down for a bit, so we decided to IL him.”

Newman was helped off the field in the ninth inning of the Pirates’ 5-4 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night. Facing left-hander Génesis Cabrera with one out in the ninth, Newman worked a 2-2 count then tried to get out of the way when Cabrera unleashed a low, inside fastball. But the pitch struck Newman on the outside of his left knee, and he immediately fell to the ground in pain.

“I can’t even imagine,” said third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who was in the dugout at the time, after Saturday's game. “The sound that it made, I thought for sure something was broken. Just getting hit in the ninth inning like that is tough. I’m hoping he’s OK and hoping it’s nothing too serious so he can get back out there.”

Newman was eventually able to get up, but he didn’t put any pressure on his injured knee as he limped off the field with the assistance of head athletic trainer Bryan Housand, Shelton and assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano.

The Pirates recalled outfielder Jason Martin on Sunday to take Newman’s spot on the active roster. With only a week left in the regular season, a placement on the 10-day IL will end Newman’s season.

It’s an aggravating ending to a frustrating year for Newman, who thrived as the Bucs’ leadoff-hitting shortstop in 2019. Bouncing back and forth between shortstop and second base this season, Newman hit just .224/.281/.276 with one home run, 10 RBIs and seven errors in 44 games.

“I hope to get better every year. Do I think I did that? No. I don't think I’ve performed nearly to how I’m capable of [performing],” Newman said before Saturday’s game. “I'm not happy with how I played, by any means. I'm going to use that as fuel going into the offseason.”

Shelton noted that Newman was not alone in his sophomore slump, as Bryan Reynolds has also struggled to find the success he enjoyed last year. Getting them back on track will be a focal point for the coaching staff and front office this winter.

“There are adjustments made, and now we have to adjust back. We’ve seen that a little bit with Newman, who's done that a little bit, and with Reynolds,” Shelton said. “We will spend the offseason trying to identify not only in conversations with Kevin of what he feels he needs to do better, but looking into it a little bit deeper, how we can make adjustments.”

Around the horn
• The Pirates acquired a little more than $1 million in additional international spending capacity, according to a source, by making two minor trades on Sunday. Pittsburgh sent left-hander Domingo Robles to St. Louis and right-hander Conner Loeprich to Baltimore and received additional capacity for the 2019-20 international bonus pool in each deal.

The club hopes to use the extra space they acquired before the international signing period ends on Oct. 15.

• The Pirates sent right-hander Joel Cesar to the Phillies to complete their Aug. 26 trade for lefty reliever Austin Davis. The deal was initially announced as Davis for cash and a player to be named later. Philadelphia added Cesar, 24, to its 60-man player pool.

Cesar, a 5-foot-11 reliever, reached Double-A Altoona last season and put together a 3.18 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 134 strikeouts in 138 2/3 innings over 90 appearances in the Pirates' system from 2016-19. He was not ranked among the Pirates’ Top 30 prospects and was not part of Pittsburgh’s player pool for this season.

• The Pirates are “hopeful” that Cole Tucker will be able to play again before the season ends, general manager Ben Cherington said on his weekly KDKA-FM radio show. Tucker is on the seven-day concussion injured list. Cherington said Tucker is feeling better but not fully symptom-free yet.

• Hayes doubled and homered Saturday night, giving him three homers, four doubles and two triples in his first 17 Major League games. Since 1980, only Barry Bonds has totaled more extra-base hits (10) within the first 17 games of his Pirates career. Andrew McCutchen, Austin Meadows and Brad Eldred also had nine.

Hayes had a scheduled day off Sunday. JT Riddle started at third base.

• After a 2-1 loss on Sunday afternoon, the Pirates have lost 14 one-run games this season, the most of any team in the Majors. They are 6-14 this year in games decided by one run.