Marte believes taking days off helped him
PITTSBURGH — Starling Marte recently got a few days off. The Pirates got a better player when Marte returned.
The enforced rest has become an occasional tactic for manager Clint Hurdle. He did it a few years ago with Andrew McCutchen, sitting the slumping player for a series in Atlanta.
McCutchen didn’t like the forced inactivity, and refused to credit it when he rebounded.
But Marte, who was out of the starting lineup for three games at the start of the month, embraced the chance to take a step back.
“He gave me three days off to relax and forget about everything,” Marte said. “I worked on things in the cage with the (pitching) machine, whatever they wanted me to do. I came back hot.”
Marte’s massive two-run homer Wednesday provided all the offense starter Trevor Williams and the bullpen needed in a 2-0 victory over Washington.
Since returning, Marte has been a force for the Pirates.
“I think he was just able to iron some things out with his swing,” Hurdle said. “Fresh eyes. Hit the reset button. You have a fresh start. That ball was pounded today. A lot of things have re-ignited for him since he’s gotten back in the lineup after his time out. It’s fun to watch him.”
If the brief break worked, fine. It’s probably an idea Hurdle will revive again, even though he acknowledges he doesn’t expect a 100 percent success rate.
“Nothing works all the time,” Hurdle said. “The buy-in of the player is huge. If you don’t get the player to buy into it, sometimes it turns into a confrontation.
“I’ve been fortunate. The first year I tried it at the suggestion of an old manager friend of mine would have probably been 2005 or ’06. So far I’ve been fortunate. The buy-in from the players has been very good.”
Chad Kuhl is at least a month away from pitching for the Pirates.
That was the conclusion reached after Kuhl was examined for a second opinion on the forearm tightness that has kept him out of action since June 28.
Kuhl will remain shut down for the next four weeks, director of team medicine Todd Tomczyk said on Wednesday morning.
The Pirates remain hopeful that Kuhl will not require surgery.
“At the end of this four weeks, we will assess again and then most likely begin a throwing program,” Tomczyk said.
Kuhl was examined in New York by Dr. David Altcheck, who backed the initial diagnosis by the Pirates’ medical staff.
“He confirmed that conservative management is the way to go at this point,” Tomczyk said.
In 16 starts this season, Kuhl is 3-4 with a 4.55 earned run average and 1.435 WHIP.
Kang still out
Jung Ho Kang is headed to Pittsburgh, but not to join the Pirates’ roster.
Kang has a sprained left wrist that landed him on the disable list at Class AAA Indianapolis. He will come to Pittsburgh to be examined.
“Probably mid to late next week, he will be assessed and we’ll go from there,” Tomczyk said.
Kang hasn’t played since June 24.
Sean Rodriguez moved his injury rehab assignment (strained quad) to Bradenton temporarily.
He will return to Indianapolis after the Class AAA All-Star break ends.