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Timing of foes' injuries have benefited Bucs

Timing of foes' injuries have benefited Bucs

ST. LOUIS -- Major League players and personnel will never gloat over, or even acknowledge, other teams' injuries. The opposition always remains big league, and you still have to go out and beat them. Plus, they recognize their own injuries could be a misstep away.

That said, the Pirates have already taken considerable advantage of other teams' mishaps, and they continue to get that opportunity.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is missing the final game of this series, as well as at least the majority of the season, with upcoming surgery for a torn right thumb ligament suffered in Wednesday's game. Cincinnati -- the Bucs' next stop -- unbelievably also just lost second baseman Brandon Phillips to the exact same injury to the left thumb.

The Reds are also without Joey Votto, back on the disabled list for the second time this season with a strained left quad.

"Just going over the names ... the name power involved is probably more significant [than we saw last season]," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Hope we can stay away from adding to that. Injuries challenge your depth."

The Bucs haven't been exempt. Gerrit Cole is on the DL for the second time within a month, and Francisco Liriano will return Sunday from a month's absence. Wandy Rodriguez's knee injury was behind the problems that led to his release at the end of May. And catcher Russell Martin sat out nearly a month with a hamstring strain.

However, there is no question the Bucs have been on the fortunate end of the injuries see-saw:

• In May, they took three of a four-game series from a Washington team that lined up without Bryce Harper (left thumb), Ryan Zimmerman (right thumb) and Adam LaRoche (right quad).

• Later in May, they also took three of four in Los Angeles -- still the last series the Dodgers have lost to a National League team -- with A.J. Ellis (right ankle) and Carl Crawford (left ankle) absent.

• More recently, the Bucs took three of four in PNC Park from a Mets team without David Wright, who had to be sent back to New York for tests on his sore left shoulder.

Regarding the long schedule's ebb-and-flow, Hurdle often points out "you just have to meet the challenges of the game, and play the hand you're dealt."

The plain fact is, the Bucs have frequently been dealt a pretty good hand.

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.

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