Marte still dealing with back spasms

Marte still dealing with back spasms

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates left fielder Starling Marte was sidelined for the second straight day on Wednesday after experiencing back spasms before Tuesday's 9-7 loss at PNC Park.

Marte was warming up for Wednesday's game when he informed the training staff of the issue. His availability off the bench was unclear.

The status of reliever Neftali Feliz also remains uncertain. Sidelined by a muscular issue in his right arm, Feliz had hoped to play catch on Tuesday afternoon, but he didn't feel strong enough to do so, which means he likely won't be available through the weekend.

Feliz left Saturday's game early. According to head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk, he initially felt the pain on the 11th pitch of his 13-pitch appearance. In the absence of their eighth-inning setup man, expect left-handers Felipe Rivero and Antonio Bastardo and right-hander Juan Nicasio to play bigger roles in front of closer Tony Watson.

The Pirates received some good news on the injury front on Wednesday, as catcher Francisco Cervelli returned to the lineup. Cervelli left Monday's game early after sustaining a bruise under his left thumbnail. He felt well enough to play after having blood drained from the thumb.

This is the second injury Cervelli has sustained to his left hand this season, as he underwent surgery in June to repair a fractured hamate bone.

"So many things in this hand," Cervelli said. "I cannot describe it."

Cervelli's return gives the Pirates three able-bodied options behind the plate. They will not expand that group to four, as prospect Elias Diaz, at one time a potential callup, has been shut down after undergoing a minor procedure to clean out an infection in his lower left leg; the Pirates expect him to make a full recovery by next season.

Reliever A.J. Schugel has been sidelined since his Aug. 30 outing due to discomfort in his right arm, manager Clint Hurdle said after Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Cardinals. Schugel, a more experienced middle-relief option down the stretch, has a 3.63 ERA in 52 innings over 36 appearances this season.

"He hasn't been available," Hurdle said. "We don't know when he will be back in play."

Minor matters
Double-A Altoona outfielder Barrett Barnes was named the Eastern League Player of the Month for August. The 25-year-old prospect hit .360 and led the league with a .709 slugging percentage and 1.144 OPS, tied for second with eight home runs and third with a .434 on-base percentage.

Altoona was one of two Pirates affiliates to reach its respective Minor League playoffs, opening the Eastern League playoffs on Wednesday. Class A Advanced Bradenton also made the postseason, winning Game 1 of the Florida State League semifinals on Tuesday.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.