Mercer back with team but not in lineup

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — Jordy Mercer returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates roster Sunday, but not the starting lineup.

Mercer came off the disabled list in advance of the teams homestand finale against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park.

He had been out since injuring his left knee in a collision on July 19 against Milwaukee.

First baseman-outfielder Travis Ishikawa was placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain.

Jung Ho Kang remained the starting shortstop after his two-homer game on Saturday, but Mercer could get the spot back as soon as tonights game in Miami.

Well get him into game action sooner rather than later, said manager Clint Hurdle. Well find out rather quickly, but I heard he is in a very good place.

Mercer had been on a rehab assignment at Class AAA Indianapolis. He assured Hurdle that he felt fine in the field, and Hurdle got the same report from manager Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor.

Kang has filled in well at shortstop, but Mercer is considered better defensively. Kang will probably return to third base, where Aramis Ramirez has been playing regularly.

Mercer played seven games au Indianapolis and had six hits in 25 at bats. More importantly, he said he felt fine moving laterally while playing shortstop.

Im ready to go, Mercer said. Theres nothing holding me back. Im still wearing a little brace, to help with support. I hope to get out of it eventually.

Now I just have to go out and perform. Its awesome to be back. I missed these guys.

It was the first time Mercer had gone on the disabled list in his major league career.

Ishikawas absence takes a lefthanded bat off the bench until in is eligible to return.

The Pirates had a 20-10 record in the games that Josh Harrison and Mercer missed. Harrison was reinstated from the DL on Friday.

SUBHEAD: Geography lesson

The Pirates entered Sundays game against the Giants with an 18-4 record against the National League West.

I look at that and say, wow, Hurdle said. Then I look at our record against the Central and I say, wow, too.

The Pirates are 21-29 within the Central Division.

SUBHEAD: Is it time?

General manager Neal Huntington, speaking on his weekly radio show, wouldnt rule out the possibility of bringing up pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow in September.

However, he didnt make it seem like that move was likely, even though Glasnow has a 0.99 earned run average since his promotion to Class AAA.

Were very excited about what he can become, but there are still some boxes for him to check off in Triple A, Huntington said. In his last start (before the most recent one), he had no earned runs but was in trouble for most of the outing.

Its wonderful that he was able to get out of it, but in the major leagues he may not get out of that, and may not get out of the second or third inning because the (major league) hitters are just better.

I cant say enough positive things about Tyler Glasnow and what we think he can become. Our goal is to make sure that when he comes up, hes in a position to help this team win games, not just because we get excited about a prospect. We still have some development and boxes left to check with him.

Huntington said it was very unlikely the Pirates would call Glasnow up with the idea of using him in relief.

Were not fans of asking players to do something theyve never done before at the highest level, he said.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com