ARI@PIT: D-backs turn a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out

PITTSBURGH -- The situation with Starling Marte's right hand injury improved dramatically from Monday to Tuesday. But Tuesday still brought worse news than expected.

Marte was examined by the Pirates' team doctors on Monday when, according to the outfielder, the recommendation was surgery.

Instead, Marte sought a second opinion on Tuesday morning from Dr. Thomas Graham, the renowned Cleveland orthopedic surgeon, and his prognosis was rest.

"A couple of weeks," Marte said. "Then I can start swinging a bat."

Not the news the club wanted to hear about Marte, who suffered a bruise and ligament damage when stepped on by Arizona third baseman Martin Prado during an attempted steal of third in the Aug. 18 game. He is eligible for activation off the 15-day DL on Sept. 4, but the two-week wait won't be up until Sept. 10.

"It's a contusion with some inflammation and a sprain," said Pirates GM Neal Huntington, elaborating on the results of the medical exams. "He needs time for the swelling to go down and for the sprain to heal. [His timetable] is contingent on how quickly the swelling goes down, and the ligament in there can heal. With the swelling and the pain, he can't grip a bat."

In the absence of their everyday, and dynamic, leadoff hitter, Jose Tabata is getting a crack at the important role.

"He knows the spark he can create up there," manager Clint Hurdle said of Tabata. "It's a different kind of spark than Marte. We don't have anybody who can recreate that."

Seven prospects will play in Arizona Fall League

Top Prospects: Alen Hanson, SS, Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Infielder Alen Hanson and outfielder Alex Dickerson are among the Pirates prospects who will try to follow Andrew McCutchen's footsteps to the Majors: Through the Arizona Fall League.

Seven members of the organization will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 2013 AFL season that will begin on Oct. 8.

The Pirates contingent is highlighted by Hanson, No. 41 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list, and Dickerson, a two-time Eastern League Player of the Week this season with Double-A Altoona.

Other Pirates prospects already assigned to Scottsdale's roster include right-handers Zach Thornton and Tyler Waldron, and infielder Gift Ngoepe.

Two more spots on the Scorpions' pitching staff are being held for pitchers in Pittsburgh's system, to be announced at a later date.

First number, last word

31-20: Pirates' record against the other NL Central teams, entering Tuesday's game against Milwaukee, the start of 25 games out of the remaining 32 within the division. The Bucs have never finished a season with a winning record against NL Central foes.

"I'm not worried about the camaraderie, or how these guys will fit in. They've been around a long time." -- Neil Walker, one of the veterans in the Pirates' clubhouse, on how newcomers Marlon Byrd and John Buck will fit in there.

Worth noting

Garrett Jones missed a rare start against a right-handed pitcher, as Gaby Sanchez manned first base and Andrew Lambo was in right on Tuesday. Jones is fighting through a 1-for-28 slump, and has struck out 13 times in the last 10 games.

Jones pinch-hit in Tuesday's 7-6 loss to the Brewers and flew out in his only at-bat. Sanchez went 1-for-5 and Lambo was 2-for-4 with two runs.

Marlon Byrd and John Buck were acquired by the Pirates for the veteran experience and savvy they can lend down the stretch, but it's interesting that neither has much first-hand experience playing for a winner. In 22 seasons between them, Buck (2010 Blue Jays) and Byrd (2003-04 Phillies and 2009 Rangers) have spent only four seasons with teams that finished with winning records. Neither has any postseason experience.