The Pirates are expected to place star center fielder Andrew McCutchen on the 15-day disabled list, complicating their chances of making it to baseball's postseason for a second consecutive year.
McCutchen could be out at least three weeks or a month because of what appeared to be a serious oblique muscle injury, according to a source.
McCutchen was injured Sunday when he swung at a pitch and hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning of the Pirates' game at Arizona. He grabbed his left side as he jogged to first base and needed help leaving the field and walking down the dugout steps.
McCutchen is in the running for a second consecutive National League Most Valuable Player award. He is hitting .311 with 17 home runs, 67 RBIs and has a .947 OPS.
Left fielder Starling Marte is the likely choice to replace McCutchen in center field. Marte is on the seven-day concussion disabled list but could be recalled from a rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Indianapolis and activated to play in Tuesday night's home game against the Miami Marlins.
The Pirates are 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central Division and are 1/2-game back of the second wild-card slot.
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