Starling Marte is in the Pirates’ starting lineup Tuesday night for the first time since August 18

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Here’s a potential boost for the Pirates, who are currently locked into a tie with the Cardinals at the very top of the National League Central standings.

Starling Marte is a member of Pittsburgh’s starting lineup — batting leadoff and playing left field — on Tuesday evening against the Padres for the first time since suffering a severe hand contusion in an August 18 game versus Arizona. Marte was activated from the disabled list on September 7 but could only serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement initially due to lingering discomfort in his badly-bruised hand.

Marte was well on his way to an outstanding season for the Bucs before the injury and will carry a cool .282/.343/.443 batting line, 11 home runs, 10 triples, 36 stolen bases and 79 runs scored into his return to full-time action on Tuesday night.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.