PITTSBURGH – Filling out the lineup card isn’t usually the most difficult part of Clint Hurdle’s day, but with four players felled by injuries in the Pirates’ 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday, it’s going to take more effort than usual to find a healthy Starting Nine to face the Los Angeles Angels Friday night.

“[Francisco] Liriano is hitting ninth and [John] Jaso is hitting first. We’ll fill in the blanks in between,” Hurdle joked in his media availability in his office at PNC Park. “Our best effort tonight is to try and get a real good grasp on the severity of the injuries for each man individually, push through tonight to the best of our abilities, and then if a taxi squad opportunity opens up, to visit that maybe tomorrow.”

The Pirates’ manager still needed to have evaluations done and speak with Francisco Cervelli, David Freese, Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer. After those evaluations, the lineup was released. McCutchen (thumb) is in the Pirates lineup and batting second. Cervelli (foot), Freese (hand) and Mercer (elbow) are not. Chris Stewart is starting at catcher and Sean Rodriguez will play shortstop.

The four starters leaving due to injury was a first for Hurdle, but he doesn’t see a connecting thread to the injuries, even though three of the four Pirates — Cervelli, Freese and Mercer — were injured after being hit by pitches, something that has been an ongoing issue for the Pirates this season. Reliever Ryan Vogelsong had surgery to repair multiple facial fractures on Thursday, as he continues to recover from being hit in the face on May 23.

“The game provides you different challenges at different times,” Hurdle said. “Cervelli got hit with a breaking ball in the back foot from a guy that’s pitching very well. It’s an outlier. The other two guys had spray command. We knew that coming in. There’s no intent. They just hit guys in bad spots.”

Hurdle doesn’t believe that any of the four injured players will require a trip to the disabled list, but being able to field a roster in the meantime without bringing up any fresh bodies could present a challenge.

“You have to weigh possible days down [from injury] versus 15 days down [on the disabled list],” Hurdle said. “When you have the volume of guys [injured] that we do, we’re trying to work our way through that right now.”

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  1. Yea, Francisco flat out stunk up the joint last night. It was painful to watch. I also think Cutch’s thumb has been bothering him longer than he’s willing to admit.

  2. Now we’re down to one decent starter – Cole – the rest range from bad to very bad. Will the Pirates do the bold, and right, thing – and bring up 2-3 new starters and try to give this team a jump start? The bullpen needs a wholesale change as well. Outside of Watson and Melancon, there isn’t one pitcher in the bullpen who should be feeling secure about his role – they have all been bad at times, in fact most times. Bring up Glasnow and Taillon to start – and bring up Kuhl to help the bullpen, while also moving Nicasio and Locke there as well. If Liriano or Niese don’t start pitching well consistently, changes may need to be made there as well – the clock is ticking….

    • For now Nicasio needs to go to the bullpen and Liriano to Florida for a retooled mind. Bring Taillon and Kuhl up. Glasnow isn’t ready yet. Locke’s recent starts have been better. Niese, who knows?

    • Niese has 4 starts in a row with 2 runs or less, and 5 starts ago was 3 runs.

      Dont look now, but Niese has already started pitching well and at this point semi consistently this last month. This is the Niese we hoped we would see, and it arrived for a large chunk of the last month or so.

      Also, Neftali Feliz feels confused you forgot he exists. His spot is absolutely secure and he’s a legit bullpen arm. Gave up 2 hits…..in the month of May.

    • He can’t remember what a good strike feels like. He is searching for it but can’t remember where he left it. Like I do with my car keys sometimes.

  3. Liriano has his velocity back but can’t get any calls tonight and is trying to be too fine with location

    • He did get squeezed early, but he was getting behind in a ton of counts with stuff that wasnt close.

      From seeing that one live, Liriano was just horrible from a stuff standpoint. No control, anything he did control was middle and teed up.

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