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Apr. 4—Join the conversation


Ke’Bryan Hayes’ injury to his left wrist is worse than it first appeared, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have placed him on the 10-day injured list.

When manager Derek Shelton met with reporters on a video conference call early Sunday afternoon, he listed Hayes as “day-to-day” after x-rays of the wrist were negative and showed some inflammation.

But while Shelton was first talking to reporters before the game with the Chicago Cubs, Hayes went through baseball activities on the infield at Wrigley Field and couldn’t properly squeeze his glove. Shelton quickly called reporters back to a second conference call with the bad news.

“We decided after (Hayes was) doing the baseball activities, the IL stint was probably the best situation for him,” Shelton said. “No new change as far as diagnostically from where we were at earlier. Just the baseball activities led us to believe that this was going to be 10 days.”

Infielder Wilmer Difo was activated from the injured list.

Hayes jammed his left wrist against the knob of the bat while swinging in the first inning Saturday. He was replaced by Erik Gonzalez. Phillip Evans was scheduled to start at third base Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.

Just throw strikes

Without anyone resembling an ace in the starting rotation, Pirates pitchers can, at least, make this claim:

They won’t back down from hitters.

That’s JT Brubaker’s plan for Monday night when he starts against the Reds in Cincinnati. With Steven Brault (lat strain) out until at least June, Brubaker is fourth in line among Pirates’ starters.

“We have guys who want to go out there and attack the hitters,” he said. “Make them swing the bat, make them put it in play. One thing (pitching coach) Oscar (Marin) has consistently talked to us about is no free passes. Let them beat us swinging the bat if they’re going to beat us. It’s a lot harder to beat somebody if you’re going to have to swing. Free passes are what’s going to kill you.”

Shelton said all young pitchers need to learn that lesson.

“They come to the big leagues and they give hitters too much credit,” he said. ” ‘Ok, we’re in the big leagues. Best hitters in the world.’ Instead of realizing that if you go right after guys, you can get guys out in the zone.

“The best hitters in the world fail seven out of 10 times. Pitchers need to realize that. They need to attack the zone.”

In the first two games, Pirate pitchers issued eight walks. Only four National League teams allowed fewer than eight. Relievers have shown good control (three walks) while surrendering only three hits in nine innings.

Brubaker, who has made only nine career starts after enduring forearm issues in 2019, found a bit of success last season aiming for the strike zone. He finished second among National League rookies with 48 strikeouts, and this spring he started to trust his repertoire of pitches.

“I can get guys out with my stuff,” he said. “I don’t have to be someone different than what I was coming up in the minor leagues (when he was the Pirates’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2018).

“Just have to go at them and make sure I’m over the plate and not get too fine east and west.”

Brubaker said he feels strong, but will leave the length of his start Monday to the manager’s discretion.

“Whenever Shelty takes the ball out of my hands, that’s when it is,” he said. “My main goal is to go as deep as they will allow me, keep the team in the ball game and put us in a place to win.”

Crick is back

The Pirates activated relief pitcher Kyle Crick from the covid injured list and optioned relieft pitcher Will Crowe to the alternate training site.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .