Pirates’ Oneil Cruz fractures left ankle vs. White Sox, out indefinitely

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Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz is out indefinitely after fracturing his left ankle in a collision against home plate in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Cruz was trying to score from third on a chopper by Ke’Bryan Hayes when Cruz’s leg bent awkwardly under him as he attempted a late slide. Cruz’s leg appeared to collide with the legs of catcher Seby Zavala, who easily tagged Cruz.

The 6-foot-7 Cruz writhed in pain on the floor for several minutes as tempers briefly flared. Pittsburgh designated hitter Carlos Santana appeared to accept Zavala’s behavior, shoving the catcher shortly after the play ended, prompting both the benches and bullpens to clear briefly.

No punches were thrown and no players were sent off as order was quickly restored. Cruz eventually stood up and was helped to the dugout by several members of Pittsburgh’s support staff.

Zavala didn’t like how late Cruz decided to slide and mentioned it to Santana, leading to a brief escalation.

“I was just talking to Santana about it,” Zavala said. “He didn’t like what I said, he said something I didn’t like. That’s what happened. I think in a couple of days everyone will forget.”

Cruz’s absence will be a significant blow to a team that is off to a 6-3 start.

“It’s a tough blow for the team for sure,” Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen said. “But injuries happen, and sometimes it’s part of the game, unfortunately. It has to be a ‘next man up’ mentality and that’s what we have to have. We have to keep going, keep moving forward.”

Cruz got to his feet and was helped to the bench by several members of Pittsburgh’s athletic training staff. The 24-year-old had walked in the top of the inning to extend his hitting streak to 19 games, the third-longest active streak in the majors.

Rodolfo Castro moved from second base to shortstop after Cruz’s departure, with Ji Hwan Bae replacing Castro at second.

“Obviously losing Oneil is a blow because he’s a big part of what we do on both sides of the ball,” Pittsburgh coach Derek Shelton said. “The flip side of that, because of the depth we’ve built over the last (of) years, we’re probably in a better place to handle it than we were before.”

Pittsburgh continues a six-game homestand on Monday when the defending World Series champion visits Houston.

Johan Oviedo (1-0) allowed five hits, all singles, and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings as the Pirates won for the fifth time in six games. Dauri Moreta walked Yasmani Grandal with a runner on second to end the seventh after replacing Oviedo. David Bednar worked around a two-out single by Gavin Sheets in the ninth for his fourth save.

Canaan Smith-Njigba tripled in the second and scored on Jack Suwinski’s sacrifice fly to produce the only run of the game.

Report from The Associated Press.

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