McCutchen scratched from Saturday’s lineup with stiff neck

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Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen tried to talk himself into Sunday’s lineup against the Cubs and was successful at first, but Pittsburgh’s coaches and trainers eventually decided to play it safe.

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jose Tabata is playing center field on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field with Matt Diaz covering left and Garrett Jones covering right.

McCutchen is only battling a bit of neck soreness and should be fine after a day or two of rest. He is 2-for-7 to open the season with a home run, two walks and two RBI. He has not yet attempted a steal.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.