PITTSBURGH - What started as a season of promise for Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Steve Pearce may finish on the disabled list.
On Tuesday, Pearce was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured right index finger. He sustained the injury in the first game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers the previous night, when he dove to make a play at third base.
"It's frustrating," Pearce said. "The season got off to great start for me. Now it doesn't look like it will end that way."
Pearce had swung the bat well before a strained right calf muscle required a stay on the disabled list in late May. He had a .291 batting average at the time.
The injury was slow to come around, and after Pearce was activated two months later, he struggled to regain his form. He has three hits (all singles) in his last 39 at-bats.
"I felt like I had made some progress lately," he said. "I started to feel a lot better at the plate even though the results didn't show it. That's what makes this [layoff] even worse."
Pearce held out hope that he could salvage something in the final weeks of the season.
"I can rest all winter," he said. "It's important for me to play a few more games this season. Maybe some of those balls will start to drop in for me."
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco was recalled from the Triple A Indianapolis farm club to take his place on the roster.
The rotation was in such a dire state that pitcher Aaron Thompson arrived from Triple A Indianapolis as the likely candidate to start the series finale.
Relief pitcher Daniel McCutchen also has been considered for the role.
"Then you're asking a reliever to be a starter, or a guy who has started to be a reliever," Hurdle said. "That's where we are right now."
Since his promotion from Double A Altoona earlier this month, Thompson has a 1-0 record and 0.79 earned run average in three games, which includes a pair of starts.
"He had a very good spring," Hurdle said. "He showed some poise, some calmness on the mound. The season has been a little bit of a roller coaster for him. He has pitched very well of late. The numbers aren't indicative of how well he has pitched in his overall volume of work."
Reliever Joe Beimel was designated for assignment, a move that created a spot for pitcher Ross Ohlendorf on the roster.
The St. Marys native compiled a 1-1 record and 5.33 ERA in 35 appearances. Opponents hit .321 against him.
"Joe gave it everything that he had," Hurdle said. "It just wasn't as sharp as everybody wanted it at the end."
Rookie Michael McKenry filled in for Pearce at third base in the series opener, borrowed glove and all.
McKenry had never played a position other than catcher in his six-year career.
"Clint asked me if I could handle it, and I told him, 'Sure, why not?' " he said. "Some of us have taken groundballs before the game, so it's not like I haven't been out there before."
Infielder Brandon Wood lent his glove for the mop-up role.
The Brewers will make their final regular-season appearance at PNC Park this afternoon (12:35, Root Sports, WPGB-FM).
Shaun Marcum (11-3, 3.40) is scheduled to start for the visitors.