There were few certainties with the Pirates lineup going into the season. But one thing you could put down in ink from the get-go was Oneil Cruz manning shortstop and batting leadoff.
That stability is now gone.
Cruz fractured his ankle sliding into home Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. A return this season is on the table, but given the four-month estimated recovery time, he’ll miss a bulk of the campaign.
The Pirates are fortunate to have some versatility on their side, and that’s something they’ll be leaning on heavily in both the near and long term. In Monday’s loss to the Astros, it was Rodolfo Castro at short, with veteran utilityman Mark Mathias playing second.
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said Tuesday on The Cook & Joe Show that Castro should see plenty of time there going forward, as will Ji-Hwan Bae.
“Well I think right now with the way our roster is set up, Castro will get reps there, I think we’ll see Bae get reps there," Shelton said. "That’s really in the short term what our plans are with how our roster is. To say what we’ll do moving forward, I can’t tell you that, but I think right now in the short term, it’s going to be Castro there and probably Bae getting over there a little bit.”
Bae has spent most of his time this season in center field and at second base. Because the Pirates have five outfielders already -- not including Bae or Mathias -- we could see plenty of Bae at second and Castro at short.