WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday, hoping the veterans can bolster a struggling offense as the franchise vies for its first playoff berth in 21 years.
The Pirates, who began the day a half-game back of St. Louis for the lead in the NL Central, sent the Mets minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later in exchange for Byrd, Buck and cash considerations.
Byrd, 35, is hitting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs this season and will give Pittsburgh needed depth in the outfield while leadoff hitter Starling Marte recovers from a wrist injury. Buck, 33, is batting .215 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Buck’s 63 home runs as a catcher rank third in the majors. He is expected to back up Russell Martin.
Pittsburgh is searching for offense to take some of the pressure off a pitching staff that has carried the team for long stretches during the first five months of the season. The Pirates lead the majors with a 3.21 ERA, though there have been signs of wear and tear this month. Pittsburgh is 11-12 in August and has seen a 4-game lead over St. Louis two weeks ago turn into a virtual tie.
Byrd has been red hot since the All-Star break, hitting .311 with 11 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 38 games. His presence should help an offense that is batting just .244 on the year, including an abysmal .223 with runners in scoring position, the second-lowest average in baseball.
The 19-year-old Herrera is hitting .265 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI for Class A West Virginia.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.