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Pirates extra cautious with McLouth

SAN DIEGO — Center fielder Nate McLouth, who was scratched from yesterday’s game due to a tweaked right oblique, is out of action again today.

“Nate’s a little better today,” manager John Russell said. “But it’s still day to day. Hopefully, we caught it early enough. If he hurt it real bad, he’ll be sitting with (Ryan) Doumit, and Doumit might get back before he does. These are very, very tough injuries in baseball and there’s not much you can do for them.”

So much of baseball involves upper-body rotation and generating torque, which puts a lot of strain on the obliques. The only way to recover it to shut things down entirely.

McLouth sustained the injury while swinging during batting practice Friday. Russell hopes it won’t be necessary to put McLouth on the DL.

“All indications are, I don’t think that’s in the future,” Russell said. “We’ve got to see how he responds. It’s a good sign that he’s better today. But again those obliques are not fun. I’ve known guys who’ve had problems with them and it’s a minimum of six weeks (on the DL), usually on the longer end of that.”

• Reliever Craig Hansen is on the DL with neck spasms. Hansen said he began feeling stiffness at the base of his neck about halfway through spring training. Over the past few days, the pain moved up into his neck. “It could (have been caused by) many things,” Hansen said. “Throwing, sleeping a certain way, sitting down too long.”

Hansen will be shut down for a few days and give the stiffness time to work itself out. “The weird thing is, when I was throwing, it was kind of a pain-reliever,” Hansen said. “I wouldn’t feel it when I was out there. I guess I was thinking about too many other things.”

Lineups for today’s game:

PIRATES — 1. Nyjer Morgan cf, 2. Freddy Sanchez 2b, 3. Craig Monroe lf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Eric Hinske rf, 6. Andy LaRoche 3b, 7. Jason Jaramillo c, 8. Jack Wilson ss, 9. Zach Duke (2-1, 2.95) lhp.

PADRES — 1.Scott Hairston cf, 2. David Eckstein 2b, 3. Adrian Gonzalez 1b, 4. Chase Headley lf, 5. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3b, 6. Nick Hundley c, 7. Chris Burke ss, 8. Jody Gerut rf, 9. Shawn Hill (1-0, 3.60) rhp.

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