DENVER -- The Pirates have had many shortcomings in manager John Russell's two seasons, but a lack of hustle has not been among them.
To find out one significant reason why the team cut loose outfielder Craig Monroe, one must rewind to a play Tuesday in Minneapolis, which, no coincidence, marked his final at-bat with the team.
With two outs in the eighth inning and the Pirates trailing, 8-2, Monroe struck out swinging over a Glen Perkins pitch that got away from catcher Joe Mauer. Monroe ran casually -- somewhere between a jog and a run -- to first base and was safe only because Mauer made a throwing error.
Monroe did not make another appearance in the three games leading up to being designated for assignment late Friday night.
No one associated with the team discussed the play for the record, but the coaching staff and front office, multiple sources confirmed, were livid.
"We made this move because we felt it was in the best interest of the organization," general manager Neal Huntington said last night. "We appreciate what Craig brought to the team while he was a member of the Pirates, but we felt it was time for a change."
Steve Pearce, promoted in Monroe's stead, was on the bench last night, and he probably will spend most of his time there early on, Russell indicated.
"We'll see as we go as far as playing time," Russell said. "He gives us a right-handed bat with some power."
Pearce started slowly for Indianapolis, but a 10-game tear leading up to his promotion -- 12 for 36 with five home runs -- raised his average to .277 and his other totals to 11 home runs and 42 RBIs.
"I started walking a lot more, worked on being patient," he said. "You start to zone in on balls a little more. I wasn't taking those bad hacks anymore. I could take an 0-2 fastball away. It's just a comfort level."
Pearce has a clear comfort level at first base, too, where he spent most of the season before a two-game shift to right field.
"I love first base, but I'll do whatever they ask."
• Russell, a former catcher, attributed Robinzon Diaz's six passed balls in just 22 games to too much movement: "We've tried to quiet him down, keep the glove from flipping. We've got some sinkerballers on the staff now, and their ball moves. You have to control your movement, put yourself in the best position to receive."
• Class AA Altoona placed Yoslan Herrera on the minor league disabled list because of a strained lower back.
• The Cleveland Indians' rotation for the upcoming interleague series: David Huff, Carl Pavano and 2008 Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.