Diaz gets starting nod

PITTSBURGH — Elias Diaz figures to be the Pirates’ catcher for most of this week, and that’s not a bad thing.

Diaz will be filling in for Francisco Cervelli, who is on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Todd Tomczyk, the Pirates director of sports medicine, confirmed on Saturday that Cervelli has a concussion.

Cervelli alerted the training staff he was not feeling well after Thursday’s game.

“I think what’s most important here is the cognition of Francisco to recognize these new symptoms,” Tomczyk said, “(Also) for him not to play through these symptoms to make us aware of them and to ensure his short and long-term health.”

Diaz started on Saturday against Arizona. It’s likely Jacob Stallings will catch today.

The Pirates have had the most productive catching combination in the major leagues this season. Cervelli has a .257 average with nine home runs and 36 runs batted in. Diaz is batting .297 after a 2-for-3 game Saturday.

“For these two guys to step in the way they have this year, it’s very refreshing,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Francisco with his development and his different game plan over the winter. Elias, with having more of an opportunity, more confidence, more reps.

“Both of them have gotten to a more convicted spot in the box. Both of them believe they can do damage in the box. It’s been fun for us to have that component, for sure.”

Playing again

After missing three games with left wrist discomfort, Jung Ho Kang returned to the lineup for Class AAA Indianapolis on Saturday.

Kang played shortstop for the Indians.

Back in town

Cory Dickerson returned to the Pirates after missing three games on the Family Emergency Medical leave.

He started in left field.

Adam Frazier was sent back to Indianapolis.

New spot

Austin Meadows batted leadoff for the first time in his brief major league career.

The usual No. 1 hitter, Josh Harrison, had the game off. Sean Rodriguez filled in for Harrison at second base.

Contingency plan

After long relievers Steven Brault and Tyler Glasnow had extended outings in the previous two games, the Pirates had Chad Kuhl in the bullpen on Saturday.

Kuhl pitched just two innings in his most recent start. He was available if the Pirates needed multiple innings of relief work.

Instead, Richard Rodriguez pitched three innings.

“If you use Kuhl, you probably have to skip his next start,” Hurdle said. “That’s not something we wanted to do.”

Bartirome dies

Tony Bartirome, who played first base for the 1952 Pirates, then later served as team trainer, died in Bradenton, FL Friday night at age 86.

Bartirome, a Pittsburgh native, was signed to a pro contract by Pie Traynor. He batted .220 for the Pirates in ’52 with no home runs and 15 runs batted in. He continued to play in the minor leagues through 1963, then took courses to become a trainer.

He joined the Pirates as trainer in 1967 and remained in that capacity through 1985. He followed Chuck Tanner to Atlanta and served as a coach for the Braves.

Bartirome retired to Florida in 1998. Survivors include his wife Carol and son Anthony, an attorney.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com


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