By Chris Adamski
NORTH SHORE – Two days after injuring himself when he missed the bag at first base, David Freese is “getting better” and hasn’t been ruled out to be available for Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs.
“Right hamstring tightness, day to day (but) he does feel better today,” head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said about three hours prior to Wednesday’s scheduled 7:05 p.m. first pitch. “We will continue to treat and monitor him throughout the course of the day to see if there’s any availability for this evening. Obviously, (Thursday is a team off day) and we’ll re-assess him on Friday.”
On a team struggling offensively (last in the National League in runs), Freese has been the Pirates’ best hitter through three weeks. He leads the team in OPS (.954), home runs (tied, three), RBIs (10), average among regulars (.321) and walks (10).
The first game he missed was Tuesday – the Pirates were shut out.
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The Pirates made it farther into a season without a DL move than they had in 26 years. But once the transactions started coming, they kept coming.
For the third consecutive day, the Pirates announced a roster move. And in a never-seen-before twist, neither of the two parties involved in it were from the Americas.
Infielder Gift Ngoepe – a native of South Africa – was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Two days after being recalled and making his major-league debut, righty reliever Dovydas Neverauskas (MLB’s first born-and-raised Lithuanian) was optioned to Triple-A.
“I can’t describe the feeling right now. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Ngoepe said. “When (manager Clint Hurdle) calls me onto the field and says,`Hey, you have to go pinch-hit or pinch-run or take your glove out and play defense,’ that’s when everything will come together and I will burst into tears.”
As you might expect, Ngoepe is not in today’s lineup:
— Pirates (@Pirates) April 26, 2017
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“There are going to be ups and downs throughout the whole year. You can’t get frustrated.”
“I do not see it as a program failure that we have positive tests.”
“”I’m going to take my time to get my body better, get healthy, and work on my stuff.”
>>> Wednesday’s game: Cubs at Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Cubs (12-8): Kyle Schwarber 7, Kris Bryant 5, Anthony Rizzo 3, Addison Russell 6, Jason Heyward 9, Willson Contreras 2, Javy Baez 4, Jon Lester 1, Jon Jay 8. LHP Lester (0-0, 2.66)
Pirates (8-12): Josh Harrison 5, Jordy Mercer 6, Andrew McCutchen 8, Gregory Polanco 7, Francisco Cervelli 2, Jose Osuna 9, Josh Bell 3, Phil Gosselin 4, RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.94)
Gamecast: Going into Tuesday’s game, the Cubs scored four or more runs in an inning nine times this season. No other team in the majors has splurged as often. … In their first 11 wins, the Cubs hit .289 with an .870 OPS and averaged 7.4 runs. In their first eight losses, the Cubs batted .221 with a .614 OPS and averaged 2.8 runs. … Lester tossed seven scoreless innings vs. the Pirates on April 16 at Wrigley Field but wound up with a no-decision. Over his first three starts, Lester allowed a total of two runs on 14 hits. In his last outing Friday vs. the Reds, he yielded five runs on nine hits.
>>> Off day Thursday
>>> Friday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA. RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13 ERA)
Marlins (10-8): Lineup TBA. LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
>>> Saturday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00 ERA)
Marlins: Lineup TBA. RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92 ERA)
>>> Sunday’s game: Pirates at Marlins, 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park. TV: Root. Radio: 93.7 FM
Pirates: Lineup TBA RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63 ERA)
Marlins: Lineup TBA. RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14 ERA)
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib