Pirates Notebook: Chavez turns into big plus

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ST. LOUIS -- Ronny Paulino has had tremendous success hitting against the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .449 (22 for 49) in his past 13 games, which makes Pirates manager John Russell's decision to start Raul Chavez in three of four games in this series at Busch Stadium a little curious.

Minor-league report
Monday's games

INDIANAPOLIS (28-31) lost Toledo, 17-3. RHP John Van Benschoten (6-1, 3.53) allowed six runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three, walked two. RHP Romulo Sanchez (2.73) allowed five unearned runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief. 1B Steve Pearce (.261), playing first base for the first time this season, hit his sixth home run, a two-run shot, and went 1 for 2 with a walk. CF Andrew McCutchen (.287) went 1 for 4.

ALTOONA (22-32) was off.

LYNCHBURG (21-36) lost to Potomac, 1-0. RHP Jared Hughes (2-7, 4.70) pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed three hits. He struck out three, walked two. C Steve Lerud (.249) went 2 for 4.

HICKORY (27-31) lost to Asheville, 5-2. RHP Duke Welker (1-2, 3.90) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. DH Bobby Spain (.322) went 2 for 4 with a double.

That is until the Pirates' main priority -- finding a way to get the starting pitching on track -- is taken into account.

Chavez was called up from Class AAA Indianapolis May 14 when Ryan Doumit (thumb) was placed on the disabled list. He was to be Paulino's backup and give Paulino a day or two off.

Yet Chavez has started four of the past five games (going back to the last game of the Cincinnati series).

Russell said Chavez would likely be the guy who will be sent back to the minors when Doumit returns, but that isn't a guarantee given the Pirates' needs and, more importantly, it doesn't necessarily have to be a permanent situation for any of the parties.

"I just want to see how he works with each pitcher and so far I have been pleased," Russell said.

Chavez said he isn't focused on what the future holds for him -- he's just trying to make the most of his opportunities.

"Every time I am in the lineup I feel like it is my job to get the pitchers ready to go," said Chavez. "I've been around for a long time, so I can't think about what happens next -- if something happens, I can't control it so I have told myself that I would prove what I can do once I got back to the big leagues."

Buried treasure

• Russell said Doumit, who was expected to catch in the bullpen during the game last night, could very well be headed for a minor league rehabilitation stint, even though Doumit has made it clear he'd rather just stay with the major league club and jump back into the lineup. "We'll revisit it when we get to Pittsburgh, we will talk about whether we want to get him to the minors for three games, maybe DH one and catch a couple. It is something Neal [Huntington] and I have discussed. I know [Doumit] wants to just be activated, but we'll see how it goes."

• Outfielder Jamie Romak of Class A Lynchburg was named Carolina League player of the week. Romak, the prospect acquired in the Adam LaRoche trade, batted .407 with four home runs and 10 RBIs.

• Shortstop Jack Wilson returned to the lineup last night after missing two games with tightening of his muscles behind his knee.


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