Gomez the latest Bucs shortstop fill-in
With Wilson due back soon, veteran infielder to hold the fort
NEW YORK -- Manager John Russell tried Luis Rivas. He tried Brian Bixler. Now he's more than willing to try veteran Chris Gomez.
Finding a capable month-long fill-in for injured shortstop Jack Wilson has proven to be a more formidable task than expected.
Rivas, a natural second baseman, earned the majority of the starts early in the month, until it became evident that his defense at the other middle-infield position was subpar. Rivas made four errors in his first five starts.
From there, the nod went more frequently to Bixler. But while the prospect showed flashes of defensive consistency, by last Saturday, he had committed to his team-worst fifth error.
So for the second consecutive game, Russell has moved to Plan B -- Gomez.
"He's going to catch the ball," Russell said of Gomez. "Does he have Jack Wilson range? Probably not. But he's going to make the plays that you need to be made."
Gomez played most of his career at shortstop before signing with the Pirates this offseason with the intention of primarily filling in as a corner infielder. The 36-year-old veteran doesn't have near the range that he did in his younger days, but with the need to find a shortstop to make even the routine plays, range isn't so much a factor at this point.
"At this point, what you'd like to see is somebody who will solidify and calm down your infield, and will make the plays he's supposed to make," Russell said. "It's not like Bixler or Rivas wouldn't or can't, it's just Gomez is kind of a calming effect a little bit. He's good to have out there."
Russell hasn't committed who he is going to use at short the rest of the time leading up to Wilson's return, which is still tentatively planned for next Tuesday, though Gomez is likely to see a few more starts.
As for Wilson, the Pittsburgh shortstop is expected to serve as the designated hitter in a Gulf Coast League game on either Wednesday or Thursday before playing in some additional Minor League games, most likely at Double-A Altoona. He is expected to begin that short stint in the next day or two.
According to Russell, Wilson is running at near 100 percent, and is now spending the majority of his rehab work fielding ground balls and getting the quickness back in his step.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.