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MLB: Pirates look for boost from Ke’Bryan Hayes in tilt vs. Marlins

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The Pittsburgh Pirates could get a boost Thursday when they open a four-game home series against the visiting Miami Marlins.

Ke’Bryan Hayes, a dynamic young third baseman who was injured in the second game of the season, is expected to come off the 60-day injured list and play Thursday.

There will be a pretty big heap of expectations on the 24-year-old to help salvage a sagging rebuilding season and give Pittsburgh fans a reason to pay attention.

“Obviously, getting Ke’Bryan back — he’s our best and most talented player — that’ll be a big boost,” Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings said. “Counting down the days since he got hurt for him to be back.”

That count should reach zero Thursday, according to manager Derek Shelton.

Hayes homered in his first at-bat this season. He had at least one significant setback in his recovery from a left wrist injury he received on a swing in his second game, but completed a recent rehab stint in Triple-A.

In his first 24 big-league games last September, the 2015 first-round draft pick had a .376/.442/.682 slash line with five homers and 11 RBIs.

“That’s a different type of player,” said Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl, who was on an overlapping rehab stint. “Offensively, defensively, he’s really, really good. Just having that guy alone changes the complexion of the lineup.”

Whether he can change the complexion of Pittsburgh’s record is another question. The Pirates have lost three straight games, nine of 11 and 12 of 15.

Miami also could use a boost.

The Marlins have lost a season-worst five straight games — including Toronto’s rally in the ninth inning Wednesday for a 6-5 win — to fall to a season-worst six games below .500.

Of the Marlins’ 30 losses, 11 have been by one run and seven by two runs.

Perhaps outfielder Starling Marte will help against the Pirates. The series marks the return of the former Pittsburgh regular to PNC Park. In four games since he came back from a broken rib, he is 5-for-14 with a homer, three doubles and three walks.

“I’m very excited to come back,” Marte, who was traded away in January 2020, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I played there for years, so it’s going to be great to see the fans and play for everyone watching on TV.”

The Marlins don’t have something on the horizon to quite match Hayes’ return, but right-hander Elieser Hernandez (right biceps inflammation) is eligible to come off the injured list Thursday. Manager Don Mattingly would reveal only that Hernandez should be activated during the series in Pittsburgh.

Hernandez figures to be a possibility to start the opener Thursday against Pittsburgh left-hander Tyler Anderson (3-5, 4.63 ERA). Miami has not named a starter for that game.

In his only appearance this year, April 3 against Tampa Bay, Hernandez gave up two runs and two hits in 2 1/3 innings and did not get a decision.

Hernandez is 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two career games against Pittsburgh, including one start.

Anderson has lost three of his past four decisions, including his last start. He gave up four runs and five hits in five innings against the Chicago Cubs on May 27.

He is 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA in five career starts against Miami.

–Field Level Media

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