Buck Showalter wouldn’t commit to leaving Starling Marte off the potential wild-card roster but acknowledged that having him available for the weekend series would require the outfielder’s broken finger to show a sudden and definitive improvement.
Marte, who took two-handed swings off soft toss Monday in an attempt to return from the non-displaced fracture of his right middle finger, still felt discomfort and can neither grip a bat hard enough to hit or grip a baseball firmly enough to throw, Showalter said.
“I’m trying to be optimistic about it,” Showalter said when asked if that put him out of the question for a potential three-game wild-card series, which would begin Friday. Sometimes, “you wake up one morning and it’s gone.” Marte, who is slashing .292/.347/.468 with 18 stolen bases, broke the finger on Sept. 6 when he was hit by a pitch.
"So far, he’s getting better little by little, but not to the point where he can play a game,” Showalter said. “I wouldn’t want to term [the recovery] as slow. It’s just a bone and it’s trying to heal and everybody heals differently. And it’s not like he doesn’t want to or is not willing to play with the discomfort. He’ll do that as good as anybody.”
Batting title watch
Jeff McNeil came into the day a fraction of a percentage point ahead of the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman in the race for the National League and batting title — leading the majors with a .326 (.32571) batting average to Freeman’s .325 (.32450). He went 2-for-3 in Game 1, bumping him up to .327851 (Freeman played a West Coast night game).
Showalter said that he’s cognizant of the fight and implied he’d be open to having it potentially inform decisions he makes in the next two days. The decision to be taken out of the game if he has the batting average lead Wednesday will not be left to McNeil, Showalter said.
“I would never put him in that position,” Showalter said. “I don’t think that’s fair to him.”
He added: “There’s a lot of pride. We’re proud of Jeff and what he’s done, especially when you’re competing against the best hitters in the world . . . He’s chasing the team stuff but if that’s a byproduct of it, so be it.”
Jose Reyes is the only other player to win a batting title in franchise history, hitting .337 in 2011.
ESPN Tuesday announced its TV crew for the National League Wild Card: Karl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Perez and Buster Olney.