Pirates manager Clint Hurdle gave Pedro Alvarez the night off Monday to allow him to work on his swing. Steve Pearce started at third base.
"We're just trying to help him find his way back to finding some consistency on offense," Hurdle said. "Sometimes it's kind of an oxymoron, how does he find his way back when he's not playing. We continue to talk about where we think we're having the disconnect transferring what he's working on in BP to the game."
Alvarez is hitting. 193 with no home runs and has five hits and 12 strikeouts in his past 31 at-bats.
"There's a couple things we're going to draw heightened attention to," Hurdle said. "He put it in play in early BP, he'll put it in play in BP and we'll see if we can help.
"His recovery time hasn't been what you want at this level. Every hitter's going to go through some periods when you're down. What creates separation at this level is recovery time."
Hurdle said Alvarez likely will only miss one game and that he was available Monday if needed.
"There's times where you'll have players you'll unplug them and you'll tell them, just get away," Hurdle said. "Try and find a place where you can get away and watch the game, I'm not going to use you unless I have to. That won't be the case. We'll use him if we need him. It's more case-specific as far as instruction goes. More time to review some video tape."
Playing every inning and getting several at-bats in a game may actually be more taxing than being a reserve, Pearce said.
"It's kind of a mental thing," he said. "Somebody gets hurt, a double-switch, you always got to be ready, so believe it or not, it's kind of a more exhausting being a bench guy than being an everyday player."
Pearce was 3 for 13 in 11 games, one start, entering the game.
"Steve's worked very hard all spring and into this season at being versatile," Hurdle said. "He's given us some good at-bats, hasn't gotten the results he wanted but as far as getting his swing off he's been probably as good as anybody we've had with the number of at-bats he's had at getting his swing off and [seeing pitches]."
Pearce said approaching the plate with a better eye for his pitch clicked last season. He used to be a hacker at the plate, he said, but now his patient approach forces the pitcher to work.
"It's different to see how the pitcher reacts when you have an approach and you're waiting for your pitch, when he makes his good pitch and you don't swing at it," he said. "It's completely different game."
Matt Diaz started in right field and hit third against Reds left-hander Travis Wood. He replaced Garrett Jones, who is 6 for 10 with two home runs in this series.
"I got to find opportunities for Matt just as I did for Jonesie when he wasn't doing well," Hurdle said.
Diaz is hitting .208 but has four hits in his past 12 at-bats.
The most recent Pirates reliever to have more than one multi-inning save in a season, such as Joel Hanrahan did Sunday, was Salomon Torres, who had three in 2006.
Bill Brink: email@example.com .