Pirates could be without reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen for a month

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In a serious blow to Pittsburgh’s playoff chances, the Pirates may be without center fielder, No. 3 hitter, and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen until September because of an oblique muscle injury.

McCutchen tweaked his oblique muscle Sunday while hitting a sacrifice fly and an unnamed source told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that it looks like a “serious” strain that could knock him out for at least 3-4 weeks.

McCutchen has once again been one of the most valuable players in the league and has actually improved upon last year’s production, hitting .311 with 17 homers, 17 steals, a league-leading 68 walks, and a .949 OPS that tops last year’s mark of .911.

He’s been extremely durable, missing a grand total of 24 games since the beginning of 2010, so the Pirates have never really had to worry about how to replace McCutchen. Assuming that Starling Marte will be cleared to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list he could shift from left field to center field, with Travis Snider manning left field.

Orioles designate Pedro Alvarez for assignment

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The Baltimore Orioles are terrible and going nowhere fast, so they decided to do some shuffling of the decks today.

One part of that was to called up catcher Caleb Joseph, which was the corresponding move to sending down Chance Sisco the other day. Joseph will now be big league teammates with brother Corban. Aww.

Another thing they did was to purchase the contract of Steve Wilkerson from Triple-A Norfolk. He’s a utility guy who has been swinging a hot bat after getting a late start to the season due to a 50-game drug suspension. Good for him, but that’s bad news for Pedro Alvarez, who was designated for assignment in the corresponding move.

Alvarez, 31, started the season well but has been atrocious for most of it. His line on the year is .180/.283/.414 with eight homers, but he’s been far worse than that for over a month. The 2013 NL home run champ will now go through waivers and, at the end of that process, likely have to choose between free agency or a trip to Norfolk. And, given that it’s the worst team in baseball sending him packing, there’s a good chance that it could be the end of the big league road for him.