Atlanta is down its top two center fielders after Nate McLouth was placed on the disabled list Friday due to a lower abdominal strain.
Jordan Schafer was previously placed on the DL on Wednesday because of a chip fracture in his left middle finger.
Taking McLouth’s place on the roster and making his major league debut in center for Atlanta tonight is minor league veteran Jose Constanza. At 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, he becomes one of the tiniest players on a major league roster, and he has the power to match, as he had collected just seven extra-base hits — two doubles, four triples and one homer — in 333 at-bats for Triple-A Gwinnett this season. He was hitting .312/.361/.351 with 23 steals in 31 attempts.
As a stopgap, a team could do worse. Constanza will play pretty good defense and do his best to slap some grounders through the infield. Still, the Braves have a greater need for an outfielder than ever now, and while Hunter Pence and Ryan Ludwick are supposed to be atop their list, a legitimate center fielder like B.J. Upton or Coco Crisp might do them more good.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.