Pirates Notebook: Patient Pearce waits his turn


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MILWAUKEE -- Sometime soon, perhaps by week's end, the Pirates are expected to add a .400 hitter to the lineup.

Really.

Steve Pearce was batting .400 for Class AAA Indianapolis entering that team's game Tuesday in Pawtucket, R.I., and he now is at .388 with two home runs, seven RBIs, a team-high 15 walks and a golden .500 on-base percentage. Half his 26 hits have gone for extra bases.

And, as general manager Neal Huntington indicated late Monday night, the Pirates are planning to reduce their pitching staff from 13 to the standard 12 within the week, the aim being adding some offense. Pearce is the most likely candidate, though perhaps not the only one with how well Neil Walker is swinging.

Pearce sounds eager for the opportunity, especially after a good start and, before that, an offseason and spring training in which he focused on better selectivity at the plate.

"I'm just trying to limit my aggression," he said by phone Tuesday. "I've found my approach, and I'm sticking with it. I've gotten away from it in the past, but it's not happening now."

Pearce has made three separate partial-season stints with the Pirates, batting .237 over 120 games and never fully carrying over his minor-league success.

Can he stick this time?

"In the past, when I get up there, I get away from what I've been doing. I've never really gotten comfortable. I try to do too much. But what I've worked on this spring was a next-level approach, working on the things that will let me take this to the majors. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing here."

On Doumit's late tag

Manager John Russell was asked about that Monday play where catcher Ryan Doumit stayed behind the plate and was too late in getting a tag down on Milwaukee's Gregg Zaun. Russell came out to briefly argue with umpire Tim Welke.

"He was safe," Russell said of Zaun. "Ryan didn't get in front of the plate. He just lost track of where he was. He should have been in front. My argument was that he [Zaun] slid into the catcher, and I'm just trying to protect the catcher a little bit."

Last year, in this same stadium, Russell benched Doumit for a lack of hustle. Tuesday night, apparently because of Russell's feeling that Doumit simply lost where he was, Doumit was back in the lineup and belted the winning grand slam in the ninth inning.

Buried treasure

• Reliever Victor Black, the Pirates' supplemental first-round draft pick last summer, will be back on the mound in early May after missing all of the Class A season to date with a strained lat muscle in the chest. It occurred in spring training.

• Starter Ross Ohlendorf threw his 50-pitch bullpen session Tuesday and remains in line to make his first rehabilitation start Friday in Bradenton, Fla.

• No starter has been named for Thursday. Russell referred to Brian Bass and Brian Burres as "options."

• The Pirates now have used eight different starters through 20 games, first time for that since 1953 when they used Murry Dickson, Johnny Lindell, Howie Pollet, Bob Friend, Paul LaPalme, Bill MacDonald and Paul Pettit.


Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog .


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