Pirates Notebook: Hague, Hernandez won't be called up

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CHICAGO -- Minor league standouts Matt Hague and Gorkys Hernandez will not be September call-ups to the Pirates major league roster, general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday on his weekly radio show.

Neither would see much playing time had they joined the Pirates, Huntington said, which factored into the reasoning.

Hague, the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians' MVP, was hitting .374 with an International League high 164 hits entering Sunday. He plays first base, where Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Derrek Lee would get most of the starts the rest of the season.

Hernandez was hitting .282 through Sunday, but the Pirates crowded outfield will become more crowded when the team activates Ryan Ludwick from the disabled list Wednesday.

Huntington said the team plans to recall Pedro Alvarez after the Indians season ends Tuesday, but he will have to fight for playing time with hot-hitting Josh Harrison and others.

The Pirates recalled infielder Pedro Ciriaco from Indianapolis Sunday. It was the sixth time Ciriaco has been recalled this season.

"Every time he's gone down, he's gone down with intent, with focus, with specific attention to detail," Hurdle said. "And every time he's come back, he's been a little bit better."

Indianapolis was eliminated from postseason contention Saturday, but Hurdle said that will not accelerate the Pirates' plan to call up players now that major league rosters can expand to 40 players. Huntington said the team plans to activate Evan Meek before the end of the season and will likely add a few more pitchers.

Streak ends

When Xavier Paul singled to center field to lead off the ninth inning Saturday, he did more than spark a four-run rally that eventually led to a win. He broke an 0-for-19 slump for Pirates pinch-hitters.

Paul became the team's first pinch-hitter to get a hit since Matt Diaz singled off the Reds' Dontrelle Willis Aug. 20.

"I think the toughest part is finding a way to stay loose," Paul said of pinch-hitting. "Mentally, you've just got to stay in the game -- note the situations, watch the game and pay attention, so when you do get that chance, you haven't been just sitting over there. Mentally, you've played six or seven innings already."

Entering Sunday, Paul was hitting .285 when he was not pinch-hitting. Before his leadoff single Saturday, Paul was hitting .086 as a pinch-hitter this season. As a team, the Pirates were .181 in pinch-hitting situations.

Skipping ahead

Jeff Karstens said he will skip another start to try to rest his arm.

"It's one of those things where you know you don't want to rush it," he said. "I thought I was fine pitching in St. Louis and it kind of fatigued a little bit quicker than normal. I think we're being a little more on the cautious side. I'd rather be fully healthy than try to come back too early then cause something to happen."

Karstens has been battling a sore shoulder and did not take his scheduled start Friday. His scheduled day in the rotation is Wednesday, and the Pirates have Brian Burres listed to pitch.

Nice job

Reliever Chris Leroux has become Hurdle's go-to reliever in tough situations. Leroux entered Saturday's game with the bases loaded and no outs. He allowed only one inherited runner to score and struck out one batter in two hitless innings.

"Probably he's pitching as well as anybody out there right now," Hurdle said.

Leroux has allowed earned runs in two of his 12 outings this season. His 2.25 ERA is his best in three major league seasons. He adjusted his mechanics in the offseason by lowering his arm slot, which has made him more effective, he said. Leroux began the season in Class AAA.

"It's a little challenging because it can be a confidence issue -- being sent back and forth," he said. "You have to have a strong mentality and you have to tough through it. When you get that chance, you've got to grab onto it and not let go."


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