Newman gets first call-up

PITTSBURGH — Kevin Newman’s expected September call-up came a couple of weeks early.

Newman, the Pirates’ first-round draft pick in 2015, was brought up from Class AAA Indianapolis Thursday as shortstop Jordy Mercer went on the 10-day disabled list with a left calf strain.

Veteran Adeiny Hechavarria will probably get most of the starts while Mercer is out, but manager Clint Hurdle said there will be opportunities for Newman.

“From opening day until now, he has improved every facet of his game,” Hurdle said.

This is something of an unofficial audition for Newman, who has a chance to make next year’s team out of spring training.

Mercer’s contract expires at the end of this season, and it is unlikely he’ll be re-signed. The Pirates hold options on Harrison for two more seasons, and it’s possible they could buy out those years as well.

Newman, 25, was batting .302 with 30 doubles, four home runs, 45 runs batted in this season at Indianapolis. He stole 28 bases in 39 attempts to lead the International League.

He was fifth in batting average and second in doubles. He was batting .366 (15-for-41) over his last 10 games at Indianapolis.

He has played mostly at shortstop this season, but he has also gotten work at second base.

“I’m ready for whatever they use me for,” Newman said. “Whatever it is, I’ll be ready. I’m ready to contribute.”

Hurdle said Newman benefited from spending spring training with the major league team.

“He was able to take a lot of valuable information out the door,” Hurdle said.

“The next measurement is to see what he puts into play, and how it plays here.”

Hurdle’s 30-second scouting report on Newman went like this: “Blue collar player, similar to what we have with Jordy. Bat to ball, a base stealer, reliable defender. He’s a ‘roll up your sleeves and go to work’ kind of guy.”

Newman got the word Wednesday night that he was headed for his first major league experience. That gave him time to alert family members in San Diego, and they scrambled to get late-night flights to Pittsburgh.

“It happened in its own time, and it happened when it needed to happen,” he said. “Thankfully they selected me and brought me up.”

As far as determining Newman’s playing time, Hurdle said, “We’re not going to force it. We’ll see what presents itself.”

Mercer was injured while running the bases earlier this week. His DL assignment was backdated to Aug. 15.

The Pirates also recalled outfielder Jordan Luplow from Indianapolis and sent catcher Jacob Stallings back to that team.

The Pirates brought up Stallings during the just-completed road trip because of their concern about Francisco Cervelli, who took another foul ball off his mask.

Asked about Cervelli, Hurdle said, “He’s fine.”

Elias Diaz started Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs.

Righthanded pitcher Casey Sadler was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Newman.

Not right

The Cubs will use four left-handed starters in this weekend series.

Jon Lester started Thursday’s game, and Cole Hamels is scheduled to start tonight. Mike Montgomery is listed as Saturday’s starter, with Jose Quintana to pitch on Sunday.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

COMMENTS