Pirates expect Andrew McCutchen back when eligible Tuesday


First the Pirates delayed placing Andrew McCutchen on the disabled list in the hopes he could play through a fractured rib and now the team expects him to come off the disabled list when eligible Tuesday.

Manager Clint Hurdle told Tom Singer of MLB.com that the Pirates are “optimistic” the reigning MVP center fielder can “rejoin us tomorrow,” which would mean returning without first going on a minor-league rehab assignment.

In his absence Pittsburgh has shifted Starling Marte from left field to center field and used Travis Snider as the primary left fielder. And the Pirates have gone 5-8 without McCutchen in the lineup, including five consecutive losses.

Prior to the injury McCutchen hit .311 with 17 homers, 17 steals, a league-leading 68 walks, and a .949 OPS, once again ranking as one of the league’s most valuable all-around players.

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.