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Neal Huntington expects Andrew McCutchen to return to career form

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What is up with McCutchen?

Neal Huntington and the Pirates organization see "every positive indication" that Andrew McCutchen "will bounce back" to career form. The Pirates' center fielder is experiencing an unprecedented decline year, going from a six-win player to barely above replacement. Citing McCutchen's bat speed and athleticism in the second half as reasons for optimism, the GM steered away from mentioning age as a factor.

"It is hard to walk up there and to see the numbers up on the board below where you expect them to be," Huntington said. "He is a great player. He is a great person. He is also human. He's tried to do more at times rather than just trusting his abilities and letting it play."

All the injury updates

Josh Harrison's right groin injury is "not going to be day-to-day." The team is continuing run diagnostics and will have a better feel for his status over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez will split duty at second while Harrison is down.

Huntington expects Neftali Feliz and A.J. Schugel to return this season, but the there is no timetable for their return. The injuries to both pitchers have lingered longer than the club or players anticipated.

Back spasms continue to bother Starling Marte, and he remains day-day-day. The Pirates' left fielder is yet to take the first steps in a return to play protocol.

"[Marte's back] locked up on him as he was preparing for the game, and it's taken some time to be able to work through that," Huntington said. "The ultimate step will be full swings and it's caught him before we've even gotten there the past few days."

Rotation in September

The Pirates will not have a set rotation over the last few weeks of the season. They will continue to "mix and match," skip starts and give extra days rest to their young starters.

"It is an interesting dynamic going on," Huntington said. "We do anticipate Jameson Taillon will be back in the rotation. We will continue to monitor him as we go forward"

Balancing playoff run with the future

Huntington addressed the odd balancing act the organization is negotiating between making a serious playoff run and protecting young players from overuse.

"When you are fighting for your playoff life in September it is hard to take a player out of the lineup, or to skip a start," Huntington said. "But we are all in this thing with the bigger picture in mind. And we don't ever take for granted that we have a playoff chance this year. At the same, our jobs are to put this organization and his club in a place for a playoff chance this year, next year and each and every year going forward."