Don't expect more than a handful of minor league call-ups by the Pirates. Don't expect much to happen before Labor Day, a full week after major league rosters open Sept. 1 for such additions. And don't completely bank on pitcher Daniel McCutchen or outfielder Jose Tabata moving up from Class AAA Indianapolis just yet, either.
McCutchen, a possible Pirates inclusion as a starter for next Monday's day-night doubleheader in Cincinnati, is under consideration for the same World Cup team awaiting Class AA Altoona third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
The Pirates, however, could well agree if McCutchen prefers to skip that month-long tournament in Europe, thereby enabling him to join a big-league rotation that will need a new starting arm or two come late September.
Team USA announces its roster Sunday and goes to camp three days later, from Sept. 2-5 in Cary, N.C. Alvarez is scheduled to join the team there.
"We may have a guy or two -- who knows, maybe even three -- want to play for them," general manager Neil Huntington said yesterday. "Which is a great experience for them. It prolongs their season a month without having the stress of the major-league [regimen] of everyday at-bats, or every fifth day or sixth day starting."
It's plausible that McCutchen, acquired from the New York Yankees last July in the Damaso Marte-Xavier Nady trade, may wish to pitch for the Pirates instead. He deserves it, Huntington continued. Moreover, Kevin Hart -- the starter and loser yesterday against Cincinnati -- and Ross Ohlendorf are on track to reach season maximums for innings, necessitating replacements in a five- or six-man rotation. Jose Ascanio, on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, is a candidate to return in a relief role, if at all, Huntington said.
Tabata, perhaps the jewel of that Yankees deal, seems to qualify for a call-up: he is hitting .351 with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs in 17 games at Indianapolis. But akin to the situation with Alvarez's offseason conditioning work, management has plans for Tabata -- most likely involving winter ball.
"With Jose we have some other things planned for him this offseason, much like Pedro -- [things] that take precedence over 10 games in September," Huntington said. "He may not be a guy who comes up here."
Count on Jeff Clement, acquired last month from Seattle in the Jack Wilson deal, being summoned to play "to see what we have," Huntington said.
Because Indianapolis' season ends Sept. 7, Huntington added: "We may be almost two weeks away from calling the majority of them up."
After last September's 10 call-ups, Huntington expected this time to add a few pitchers plus possibly a third catcher (perhaps Robinzon Diaz), a backup infielder (perhaps Neil Walker) and an extra bat or two off the bench.
• Evan Meek, on the DL with an oblique strain, left yesterday for Pirate City -- where management wants to see him pitch off a mound before shutting him down until spring.
• Huntington said the Pirates plan once again to hold one voluntary camp in November and December, then a mini-camp for "targeted" players in January -- though the uninvited are welcome there, too.