Pirates Notebook: Injury accelerates Alvarez's recall

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ATLANTA -- The Pirates promoted third baseman Pedro Alvarez from Class AAA Indianapolis Monday, and he didn't have much time to get settled as he was in the starting lineup Monday night against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Alvarez filled the roster spot left vacant earlier when the Pirates placed outfielder Alex Presley (left hand contusion) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 23.

Alvarez hit .365 (23 for 63) with three doubles, one triple, three home runs and 13 RBIs in 18 games for Indianapolis, which included time on a rehabilitation assignment. In his final 10 Class AAA games, Alvarez went 17 for 36 (.472) with a double, triple, three home runs, eight RBIs, seven runs scored and a 1.353 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

He began the season with the Pirates and hit .208 (26 for 125) with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 36 games. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 20 with a right quad strain and played five rehabilitation games with Indianapolis before being reinstated from the DL and optioned to Class AAA July 9.

"I'm glad to be back and be a part of this team again," Alvarez said Monday before the game. "But even when I was down in Indianapolis, I felt like I was part of this team and now I'm just glad to come up here and contribute to this team to help win some ballgames."

Although Alvarez's promotion was inevitable, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made it clear that it was pushed up because of Presley's injury.

He said the organization wanted Alvarez to have more time in Indianapolis to work on his swing and his defense, but that became a luxury the team couldn't afford when Presley, who is one of the teams best hitters, was injured.

"We really can't put a timetable on [how long Presley will be out] and we're really not in the position to play short," Hurdle said. "This may have been a little sooner than we originally thought [to bring Alvarez up to the major league team], but revisiting it, Pedro has made progress, he has been swinging the bat extremely well.

"Obviously we needed to add more offense since one of our best offensive players just been put on the DL."

Hurdle said that he expects Alvarez to be in the lineup every day and said he has made significant progress in his defense and his swing and he is hitting the ball well to the opposite field. He also has a much better routine for conditioning and as dropped some weight.

Alvarez said his time in the minors was well worth it because he feels like he has been well prepared to get back into the grind of playing major league baseball at a high level every day.

"We worked a lot down there, definitely," Alvarez said. "I hadn't played any games in so long that getting my timing right was the biggest concern. But definitely everything we did down there was worth more than gold in my preparation to get back up here.

"And you don't gain anything by dwelling on the negatives so I viewed my experience as a positive -- it was an opportunity to work on the things I need to work on and polish some things up."

Ohlendorf in Altoona

Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf (60-day disabled list, right shoulder posterior strain) made his third rehabilitation assignment appearance Sunday, but it was his first with Class AA Altoona. His previous two rehabilitation assignment games were at Class A Bradenton.

Ohlendorf pitched 42/3 innings, gave up five hits, two earned runs, he struck out three and walked one.

Hurdle said that Ohlendorf's performance was "encouraging."

"The number of pitches stayed under 70 and he almost got through five innings," Hurdle said. "His command was pretty efficient, the velocity stayed pretty consistent so it was a good outing for Ross. We were all encouraged with his outing."

Paul's turn

With Presley hurt and Chase d'Arnaud on the bench behind Ronny Cedeno and Alvarez, the Pirates are without their two most recent leadoff hitters, which meant Hurdle had to turn to outfielder Xavier Paul -- whose speed on the bases helped the team beat the Cardinals in extra innings Sunday -- to bat leadoff.

"He's done it for us in the past and he has done it in his career so we are going to look to him for some guidance up top," Hurdle said of the decision to have Paul lead off. "And when he gets on base he has the ability to make things happen, he is always looking to advance and he can utilize his speed up there."


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