PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen was removed from Tuesday's game vs. the Cardinals in the sixth inning due to left rib discomfort. However, concern about a serious aggravation of the rib injury that recently had McCutchen on the disabled list quickly dissipated upon his postgame sighting.
McCutchen acknowledged feeling "just sore," but also said he left the game to "take a little break" that will allow him to return for Wednesday's 12:35 p.m. ET series finale against the Cardinals.
Following the Pirates' 5-2 victory over St. Louis, in fact, McCutchen looked even more at ease than he normally does after playing full games -- when he moves around the clubhouse wearing an ice "corset." He got the ice treatment upon his removal Tuesday, and was unencumbered by the time the game ended.
Looking less comfortable, however, was infielder Pedro Alvarez. The slugger also departed the game with left foot discomfort and was seen leaving the clubhouse in a walking boot.
Alvarez told reporters he hurt the foot diving for Kolten Wong's shot down the first-base line with two outs in the sixth -- which went into the right-field corner for a double, the Cardinals' first hit off Gerrit Cole.
Manager Clint Hurdle referred to the injury as "a left foot sprain ... between a couple of his toes. We'll have to wait and see."
McCutchen had exited two innings after making a spectacular catch on Matt Carpenter's drive to dead center.
"It didn't help, jumping into the wall and some of the other stuff," said McCutchen, who had struck out on a mighty swing in the bottom of the third. "I'm not 100 percent, and I realize that. The body will tell you when you need to take a break.
"I don't want to keep pushing it. We're just being smart. So I just took a little break to be ready for the early game tomorrow."
"I think today just caught up to him a couple of different ways, a little bit all over," Hurdle said. "We're working through uncharted territory with him [due to lack of case studies on recoveries from avulsion rib fractures].
"He's trying to give it everything he's got and go out there with everything he's got from time to time. Tonight got to be a point where I didn't think we needed to push it any farther than we did."
With two outs in the top of the third, Carpenter lofted a fly to deep center. McCutchen backtracked for the ball and caught it with a minor jump, slamming back-first against the padded barrier when landing.
McCutchen, clearly jarred by the impact, grimaced and stayed stooped over for a few seconds before jogging off the field. He took his turn at bat in the bottom of the inning, striking out swinging.
"The plan is to play [Wednesday]," he said. "Some days, I need to take it a little easy. Something like this takes a long time to completely heal. Today, it was just more sore than some of the other days. But I can play with it."
McCutchen was activated a week ago after spending 15 days on the disabled list with the avulsion injury, which involves cartilage, to the 11th rib on the left side.
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.