Few medical updates on Santana, Cervelli

By John Mehno

For the Mirror

PITTSBURGH — The Pirates offered no medical updates on pitcher Edgar Santana and catcher Francisco Cervelli on Saturday.

Both players left Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Santana was said to have tightness in his forearm and elbow while the team said Cervelli had a gastrointestinal issue.

Jacob Stallings started in place of Cervelli in Saturday’s game.

Power and speed

Starling Marte headed into Saturday’s game with 19 home runs and 33 stolen bases. One more home run would allow him to join Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke as the only players in franchise history with at least 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season.

“It’s hard to have speed and power,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s a very unique combination to have. It doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it’s fun to watch.”

The stolen base, a big component on Major League Baseball in the 1970s and ’80s, has had less emphasis in recent years. As power numbers have increased, fewer teams are willing to risk an out on the bases.

Marte has been caught stealing 13 times. That puts his success rate at 72 percent when 75 percent is considered the minimum to make the gamble viable.

Making progress

One of the positives Hurdle will take from this season is the progress Elias Diaz has made.

Diaz entered Saturday’s action batting .284 with nine home runs and 40 runs batted in, with an OPS of .786. He also improved defensively and in handling the pitching staff.

Hurdle isn’t sure that Diaz should be designated as Cervelli’s back-up.

“They’ve both done above-average jobs defensively and offensively,” Hurdle said. “Based on the challenges that Francisco has had physically, there was one stretch where (Diaz) played 15 straight games. For me, it’s been 1-a and 1-b.

“(Diaz) has posted up every day and taken every opportunity to improve and learn. He does have the desire to be great.”

Still believing

Hurdle said he still thinks right-hander Michael Feliz can be an important pitcher in the Pirates bullpen.

Feliz was acquired from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade with the idea he would be one the main set up relievers.

But Feliz struggled and was demoted to the minor leagues during the season. In 43 games, he’s 0-2 with a 6.02 earned run average and a WHIP of 1.55.

“I believe he’s still the pitcher we traded for,” Hurdle said. “We’ve seen some nice signs since he’s come back. Throughout the process, he was an honest self-evaluator who made no excuses. He was willing to listen and learn and try to implement new things.

“He has a strong core conviction of who he wants to be and how he wants to get there. All the attributes are still in place. The hunger is still in place. The desire to have a meaningful role in the bullpen is still in place. We like the man and the reliever and the arm. He’s motivated, and he’s ready for whatever is next.”

One more time

Today’s game against Milwaukee is likely the last home game of the season.

The Pirates are tentatively scheduled to make up a postponed game against Miami on Oct. 1, but that will likely be canceled as soon as the Pirates are officially eliminated from wild card contention.

Mehno can be reached at: johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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