The Pirates' pitching prospect who has done the most to earn a September recall will not be getting one.
Right-hander Daniel McCutchen, whose 13-6 record at Class AAA Indianapolis marks the most victories of any starter in the system, instead will represent the United States in the International Baseball Federation's World Cup next month in Europe. The final American roster was announced yesterday, and top prospect Pedro Alvarez, as expected, was on it.
Given that McCutchen is 26 and might benefit more from a debut in Pittsburgh -- especially given that management plans to seriously consider him for the rotation next spring -- why send him away?
"He is 26, but this was his first full year at Triple-A, and he's really put together a nice year, a great second half," general manager Neal Huntington said. "I'm sure Dan probably would rather be pitching in the big leagues, but we thought this was a great first step for him."
Are the Pirates making McCutchen go?
"No, it's completely Dan's call, whether he wants to go over or not," Huntington said. "We had a lot of discussions about what we felt was best for his advancement. And the ability to get four or five starts against that caliber of competition, we felt that would be a great bridge between the minors and majors for him."
The Pirates did not agree to send McCutchen to the U.S. team until assured he would be used as a starter.
In 24 starts for Indianapolis, McCutchen has a 3.47 ERA, 110 strikeouts and 29 walks.
A possibility for the sixth starter the Pirates are seeking is Eric Hacker, who, unlike McCutchen, already is part of the full 40-man roster.
Second baseman Delwyn Young, first on the field every afternoon taking grounders from infield instructor Perry Hill, is making significant strides after what initially looked to be quite the project.
"I'm more comfortable," Young said yesterday. "When you do that, everything feels more natural."
Case in point was a 5-4-3 double play Wednesday: Andy LaRoche had a bit of trouble with the bouncer, but Young held his ground at second despite knowing that Philadelphia's Ben Francisco would be aiming to take him out.
"Never moved an inch," Hill said.
Young took LaRoche's strong throw and transferred seamlessly to the throwing hand, leaped as Francisco arrived and finished it off, a little dusty but otherwise undamaged.
"Probably my best transfer," Young said. "Really, Andy makes the play by throwing it exactly where I needed."
• Shortstop Ronny Cedeno missed a fifth start to the fractured right pinky, but Russell said he is not being considered for the disabled list.
• Reliever Jeff Karstens threw a 36-pitch side session and experienced only slight effects of his creaky lower back.
• Reliever Craig Hansen has no timetable to resume throwing, but the nerves he is working to regenerate in his upper back "are progressing," he said.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .