Back spasms short-circuited an electric season by Starling Marte, denying the 28-year-old of finishing off one of his most productive campaigns. The outfielder offset career lows in games played (129) and home runs (9) with a career-high .311 batting average and 47 stolen bases in 2016. He started just one game after Sept. 5 due to the back injury, but when he was healthy, he registered a .380 BABIP (second highest in the majors behind DJ LeMahieu's .388). While that number is likely to regress in 2017, he features a career .359 BABIP. Marte's aggressive style lends itself to injuries -- he dealt with a host of ailments in 2016 before the back issue -- and he's been hit by 79 pitches in five seasons. The two-time Gold Glove winner should be healthy for spring training, but it might be wise to keep a close eye on his Grapefruit League progress.
Pirates GM Neal Huntington remained cryptic as to why Marte (back) was placed on the 15-day DL Sunday. "A paperwork move," Huntington told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He's missed a large majority of (September), unlike some of the other guys like (Francisco) Cervelli, who are banged up. We felt it was useful for a variety of reasons to note that he went on the DL." The move could be construed as unusual, considering the team reportedly had little to gain, financially or otherwise. There's some thought the team is disappointed with Marte's ability to stay on the field -- he started only one game after Sept. 5. For his part, Marte sounded frustrated with his finish. "I'm not happy about that because my back (hurt), and I only played one game, then my back felt bad again," Marte said. "That happens. I was still working on my back. I was working to get back into the lineup, but it still hurt." Despite missing 33 games, the outfielder set a number of career highs, including stolen bases (47) and OPS (.818).
Marte (back) was placed on the 15-day DL on Saturday, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. The Pirates had already shut down Marte for the season and didn't promote another player to the active roster, so it's not clear why the team proceeded with the transaction. In any event, it's just a final reminder that Marte's season is over.
Marte (back) has been ruled out for the Cardinals series this weekend, which has effectively ended his season, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Marte has started just one game since Sep. 5, as he has dealt with back spams. He returned in a pinch-hitting role Sep. 27, but has been ultimately been ruled out for the season. The Pirates are likely exercising caution with their veteran outfielder in order to avoid him unnecessarily worsening the injury, as they have no playoff aspirations.
Marte (back) remains out of the lineup Thursday. He appeared as a pinch hitter Tuesday but had no game action Wednesday. Pittsburgh doesn't seem to be in a rush to play one of their franchise names now that they're eliminated from postseason eligibility. Sean Rodriguez will man left field and hit fifth.
Marte (back) remains out of the lineup Wednesday. Marte made a pinch hit appearance Tuesday, but he'll remain out of the lineup Wednesday. He is dealing with back tightness that has limited him to just three at-bats in the last 22 games. Matt Joyce will get the start in left field and hit cleanup Wednesday.