PITTSBURGH, PA — When Jordy Mercer was promoted to Pittsburgh from Triple-A on May 29, he earned it. The rookie infielder hit for a .303/.379/.417 line in 175 at-bats with Indianapolis and was used as a pinch-hitter the same day he flew in from the minors. The 25-year-old struck out swinging, but picked up his first Major League hit the very next day in his first big league start at shortstop.
But since then, Mercer hasn’t seen much playing time. The infielder made just one other start, and hasn’t seen an at-bat since June 9th — 10 days without seeing a Major League pitch.
“It’s something new,” Mercer said of the lack of playing time. “It’s something that I haven’t experienced a lot of. It’s trying to take an extra rep, take an extra swing, do the extra things that I have to be prepared. I continue to do that. I’ve been learning a lot from other guys. I’ve asked a lot of questions from other guys. Just some of the things to help and they’ve taught me a lot with it too.”
Manager Clint Hurdle faced the challenge of getting him at bats while on the road trip due to playing in American League ballparks, but was still out of the lineup on Tuesday back in Pittsburgh.
“We brought him up because we felt we needed a quick day or two timed down for [Clint] Barmes,” Hurdle said. “He was able to give us that when we were working on something. Now, we’re of the mindset that we will revisit it for opportunities, but also we’ve got Josh Harrison involved. We’ve got a lot of people involved. The one thing that Jordy does here is that he doesn’t make Harrison the 25th man. If Jordy isn’t here then Harrison is the 25th man because he is the only other guy that I have that can play shortstop to get that guy in the game. This gives me the opportunity to free Josh up at will for when we feel best served to put him in the game.”
“Those are the challenges you have up here. There is something to be said for him being up here and working. There is also something to be having at-bats. He’s part of the internal discussions right now, is there going to be a way this home stand to give him some starts as well.”
Since Barmes sat for four days to work on his swing, the shortstop has swung a batter bat as of late. Over his last 14 games, Barmes is hitting for a .286 average in 49 at-bats, with a .708 OPS. While Hurdle likes to go with the hotter bat, not getting everyday playing time can hinder Mercer’s development.
The infielder, who can play second, short and third base, has been putting in extra work on the field and in the cages in order to stay fresh. There will come a point in time, however, that players on the bench need to get regular at-bats. For young players, adjusting to a bench role can be tough. But despite the lack of playing time, Mercer said it’s been a great experience to learn from the players at the Major League level and has helped him grow as a player.
“Anytime you can spend just one day up here, you gain so much experience, so much wisdom,” Mercer said. “Not necessarily on the field, but off the field too. How you handle yourself, all that stuff too. The more days I stay here, the more I learn from everybody, from all the players. They’ve been good about anything I need come up and ask them. Everybody has been willing to help so that’s been pretty cool.”