After slow start, Mercer heating up through June

After slow start, Mercer heating up through June

CHICAGO -- Jordy Mercer dragged a sub-.200 average through the month of May. Since then, he's been moving up -- both among Major League shortstops and in the Pirates' lineup.

In June, Mercer was hitting .306 through Saturday's game and led all big league shortstops with five home runs, including one in each of the first two games of the series against the Cubs.

"His month of June has been very solid. It's fun to watch him get in the box now with more intent," said manager Clint Hurdle, who knew just how to take advantage of a hot bat.

Mercer was in the five-hole for Sunday's series finale at Wrigley Field -- the first time he has ever started in that spot. Some lineup juggling gave him that opening; Chris Stewart caught in the day game, and the Bucs were still without Starling Marte. However, Mercer also earned the hoist with his recent production.

"He's getting his swing off," Hurdle noted. "He's also been playing very solid defense. His total confidence is growing."

He definitely does not appear to be the same guy who had 11 hits in his first 73 at-bats of the season.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.