CLEVELAND -- The vagaries of a Major League baptismal have certainly been experienced by Jordy Mercer, who could be let out of the Pirates' reserves protection program for Sunday's series finale with the Indians. The young infielder broke into the big leagues with a flourish, pinch-hitting the night he first joined the Bucs from Triple-A Indianapolis, then starting at shortstop two of the next three games. In the two weeks since the second of those two starts, on June 1, he has surfaced once, drawing a walk in a June 9 pinch-hit appearance. "Maybe [Sunday] will be an option for Jordy," said manager Clint Hurdle, who has committed most of the starting time at the position to Clint Barmes. "I need to make sure Josh [Harrison] gets in a game first. So, yeah, it's been a challenge.
"If nothing else comes of it, the playing time has given him valuable experience. He's got a much better understanding of the game at this level. He gave us a nice look in a short window when he first got here. I thought he was much more comfortable than at any time during Spring Training, which was very good to see." Then there's the invisible aspect of the breaking-in of Mercer, a prime candidate to be the Pirates' shortstop of the future: The time spent in the clubhouse getting to know his veteran teammates, and the daily routines of big league life.