Pérez, Bart injuries shake up Pirates' roster

May 28th, 2024

PITTSBURGH – The Pirates’ starting battery of and both exited early Sunday afternoon with injuries, putting the game in the hands of their struggling middle relievers. The Braves took advantage of that and managed to avoid the three-game sweep at PNC Park, sending the Bucs to an 8-1 loss.

Bart exited after the first inning with a left thumb injury. Manager Derek Shelton said Bart’s thumb had been tender anyway, and he caught a ball wrong and it “thumbed him.”

In the third, Pérez lost a race to first base with Jarred Kelenic and walked back toward the mound slowly. After being checked out and throwing a warm-up pitch, Pérez was able to face two more batters to finish the frame, but his stuff took a downturn. He was removed with a left groin injury.

“The next two or three pitches he threw, the velo clicked way down,” explained Shelton. “So watching him, that was going to be his last hitter either way.”

Both players ended up on the injured list on Tuesday.

Carmen Mlodzinski, Aroldis Chapman and Kyle Nicolas each allowed multiple runs as the Pirates tried to adapt to not having Pérez, which was more than enough run support for Chris Sale, who spun seven terrific innings.

“I think I just mis-executed some pitches,” said Mlodzinski, who allowed three runs on three hits and two walks over two innings and took the loss. “I thought all in all, I felt pretty good. My stuff was good. I wish I just had a few pitches back there.”

Minor Leaguer catcher Grant Koch, who has been on the taxi squad since Wednesday and stayed with the team at PNC Park this week, had his contract selected from Triple-A on Tuesday. The club also got Ke’Bryan Hayes back. He ran the bases before the game Sunday, to which Shelton said he was “very optimistic” about how he looked.

If the Pirates had to be dealt a blow from the injury bug, this isn’t a terrible patch of the schedule. The team has three off-days scheduled over the next eight days, including Monday's. That gives them the option to roll with a four-man rotation for a bit or potentially lean on Yasmani Grandal a little more behind the plate.

On the other hand, they were expecting good injury news this weekend. Marco Gonzales and Ryan Borucki are doing plyometric work and are expected to start throwing soon. Jason Delay started a rehab assignment this weekend.

While Hayes hasn’t produced offensively like he did in the second half of 2023, hitting .240 with a .640 OPS, he has the potential to make an impact on this club.

“When he's healthy, offensively, we've seen what he can do,” Shelton said. “I know he's battled through this back stuff. We've seen, even going back to last year, that when he's healthy and he's right, it's really good at-bats. The second part of it is he's a really good defender. [Jared Triolo] has done a really good job over there. That's not taking anything away from Tri. Tri's done a really good job. But when you get a guy like that back, it changes the dynamic a little bit."