Pirates Notebook: Moss was open to big change

Brandon Moss had a lousy 2009 with the Pirates, a lousier spring training, then continued to be lousy upon being demoted to Class AAA Indianapolis.

Or, as he put it just after returning to the majors Tuesday, "It was nothing but 4-3," referring to groundouts to second.

Then, suddenly, in early May, Moss began crushing the ball and ended up Indianapolis' MVP after batting .266 with 22 home runs and 96 RBIs, the latter leading the International League.

What happened?

"It took one day," he said.

That began with Indianapolis hitting coach Jeff Branson finding video of Moss from his Class AA days in the Boston system, showing it to Moss and asking why his stance was so open in the video. The front heel was almost back on the chalk.

Moss replied that was how he used to hit before the Red Sox closed his stance upon promoting him for a bench role in late 2007, and he never went back.

"So Jeff says, 'Why don't we try it? It's not like you can get any worse,' " Moss recalled with a laugh. "Everything changed for me right away, and it's been that way I ever since. I just needed to get back to being who I am."

And who is that?

"I've got to hit home runs. I'm never going to be that perfect hitter, but I can hit home runs. And that's what I got back to doing."

Thirty-five's a crowd

The Pirates' active roster is 35, the highest anyone with the team can recall, and there were only three unused stalls in the usually spacious clubhouse.

Manager John Russell's biggest challenge would appear to be splitting time among his many right fielders -- Ryan Doumit, Lastings Milledge, John Bowker and Moss -- though Bowker took extra work at first base before the game Tuesday.

Of Moss, Russell said, "We'll see what opportunity there is for him, but he certainly deserved to be called up."

Presley's ascent

There was no better feel-good story among the new arrivals than that of outfielder Alex Presley, whose career had been clogged at high Class A last year but whose 166 hits this year for Class AA Altoona and Indianapolis had him reach the majors.

"It hasn't really sunk in," Presley said. "It's just unbelievable being here."

Russell called Presley "a great story," adding, "It sends a message not only to Alex but to our whole organization what hard work can get you."

Buried treasure

• Russell said he will stay with a five-man rotation and that Brian Burres will be part of it. If Jeff Karstens returns from his arm fatigue -- still unlikely -- he will pitch out of the bullpen.

Brad Lincoln, who will be limited to bullpen duty after his last two starts for Indianapolis were hampered while recovering from a stiff neck, said the neck feels better. Lincoln failed to get through three innings in either of those starts and said he was "pitching just to show I could pitch."

• Infielder Andy LaRoche was named the Pirates' nominee for Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award, given primarily for humanitarian work. LaRoche will be recognized today, MLB's ninth annual Clemente Day.

Dejan Kovacevic: dkovacevic@post-gazette.com . Find more at PBC Blog . First Published September 8, 2010 4:30 AM


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