Bucs left to search for leadoff hitter

Bucs left to search for leadoff hitter

ATLANTA -- While the loss of Alex Presley has cost the Pirates one of their best hitters over the past month, it has also left the club searching for a fit for the leadoff spot.

Presley, who was placed on the disabled list with a left hand contusion on Monday, was a natural fit to hit at the top of the order and had batted there in all 20 games he played after being called up on June 28. Before Presley, that leadoff role had been handled by outfielder Jose Tabata.

But Tabata is on the DL, too, and that has left manager Clint Hurdle the challenge of getting creative with his batting order. Xavier Paul has batted first in the two games since Presley's injury and appears to be Hurdle's next-best option. With an on-base percentage of .275, though, Paul is hardly the ideal leadoff candidate.

Hurdle said Andrew McCutchen would probably be the next guy he would turn to, though Hurdle did not seem big on the idea of moving McCutchen out of the cleanup spot. Concerns about the batting order could force Hurdle to play Paul fairly regularly in left field until Tabata or Presley returns.

"We're just going to play it one game at a time," Hurdle said, when asked about Paul's expected playing time. "We'll give him some more at-bats tonight and see where he can take them. We'll see how we do as a team, look at the matchups and go from there."