Pirates Notebook: LaRoche approached about move

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CINCINNATI -- The Pirates have spoken with Andy LaRoche about moving from third base to second next year to make room for top prospect Pedro Alvarez, though such a move is far from definite.

"With Andy, we'll continue to take a look at all options," general manager Neal Huntington said at Great American Ball Park. "He's played there some as an amateur, a handful of games as a professional. At this point in time, we have to be open to all options."

LaRoche certainly sounds open to it.

"Oh, it's completely fine by me," he said. "Shoot, if that's going to help us out for me to go to second, that doesn't bother me at all. If they think Pedro's ready to come up and that helps us win, hey, whatever it takes to get us to play in October. That's all I want here."

Two reasons that such a move remains tentative:

1. It remains unknown when Alvarez, who never has played above Class AA, will arrive. The goal most commonly stated is by the middle of next season, but the team wants him to upgrade his strength and conditioning this offseason.

2. It remains equally unknown if LaRoche can handle the position. He has spent a total of three games at second in his career, all in 2008 while in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system, and just a handful of additional games in the minors.

"I can play there," he said. "But it'll take some work."

Offensively, it might pay to make such a move: Although LaRoche's offensive numbers are modest -- .260, 12 home runs, team-high 64 RBIs -- he was in his first full season at age 25, and he spent much of the first half reworking his approach to make better adjustments to various pitches. The power, which was no emphasis at the time, has emerged only in the past month.

"I needed to get back my approach of hard line drives through the middle, and that had me swinging, I'd say, at 70-75 percent," LaRoche said of the early going. "Once I got that down, I started to put a little more behind the swing and show more power. It all seemed to finally click a few weeks ago."

Doumit done

Catcher Ryan Doumit has a mild concussion, the result of being struck by a foul tip Friday, and was held out last night and will be out again today.

Doumit has a concussion history, always a concern, but manager John Russell called him no worse than "a little woozy." Doumit was with the team all through the day.

Moss' role reduced

Manager John Russell strongly suggested that outfielder Brandon Moss will be relegated to bench duty next year.

In describing management's recent meeting with Moss, Russell said, "Brandon realizes the opportunity he had here and that he didn't take advantage of it. He also knows the opportunity may not be as large next time. He's going to have to show us something. Now, that doesn't mean he has to hit .450 in the spring, but he does have to make some adjustments."

Moss, in a 4-for-34 slump, has a .236 average and seven home runs in 383 at-bats.

Maholm pitched hurt

The left knee that starter Paul Maholm had been wrapping in ice after every start had, in fact, been bothering him since the season opener in St. Louis, he finally conceded after staying mum on the matter all summer. The knee was hurt, he said, while running the bases early in that 6-4 victory.

"Was I 100 percent? No," he said. "I hurt it right off the bat, and it would come and go."

That knee has been surgically repaired four times, but Maholm sounded confident a fifth will be unnecessary.

"It's actually gotten a little better as the year's gone on. It's not that big a deal."

Buried treasure

• There will be no decision regarding infield instructor Perry Hill this weekend. The sides plan to talk in Pittsburgh early this week.

• Shortstop Ronny Cedeno sounds optimistic his hamstring issues are not long-term: "I've never had a problem in my life," he said. The conditioning staff has given him a CD-rom with a training regimen to strengthen the hamstrings in the offseason.

• Reliever Joel Hanrahan need not have fretted that he and left fielder Lastings Milledge nearly became "the first players in baseball history on two 100-loss teams" in the same year: In 1985, shortstop Johnnie LeMaster played for the Pirates, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants, all 100-loss teams that year.

Catch more on the Pirates at the PG's PBC Blog . Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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