Pirates' turn the power up with addition of Lambo

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The Pirates announced Monday their plan to add minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo to the active roster Tuesday, bringing one of the Pirates' best minor league hitters this season to a team in need of offensive help.

Lambo, a left-handed hitter who turned 25 Sunday, has a .350 on-base percentage and 31 home runs this season between Class AA Altoona and Class AAA Indianapolis. He hit .297 in his past 10 games.

The Pirates will make corresponding moves to add Lambo to the active and 40-man rosters today. Adding Lambo to the active roster could mean Starling Marte will go on the disabled list because of a left hand injury previously thought not to be serious. The Pirates also could option Alex Presley to Indianapolis.

The Pirates' 40-man roster currently has an open spot, so the Pirates don't need to clear one. They also could put pitcher Wandy Rodriguez or catcher Michael McKenry on the 60-day disabled list.

Lambo joined the Pirates from the Los Angeles Dodgers with pitcher James McDonald in exchange for reliever Octavio Dotel at the 2010 trade deadline.

"We acquired Andrew for a reason," general manager Neal Huntington said at the July 31 trade deadline. "It's taken a little bit longer maybe than we'd hoped, but he certainly has put up some good numbers this year and is a guy that we do feel with some continued growth, some continued adjustments, could help us at the major league level at some point this summer."

Lambo's season comes after several up-and-down years in the minors. He hit for average and power in 2007 and 2008, his first two seasons in pro baseball after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. Baseball America ranked him as the Dodgers' top prospect after the 2008 season. He plateaued in Class AA in 2009 and 2010.

He reached Class AAA in 2011, but hit .184 in 60 games there. Injuries limited him to 35 games in 2012.

He started this season in Altoona and hit .291 with 14 home runs. After 58 games, he was promoted to Indianapolis, where he hit .278 with 17 home runs in 59 games.

The offense could use some help after producing seven runs while the Pirates were being swept in a three-game series over the weekend by the Colorado Rockies at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Lambo has never appeared in the major leagues.

Some help at catcher

In need of catching depth, the Pirates signed catcher Kelly Shoppach to a minor league contract Monday to help cover for Michael McKenry's season-ending injury.

Shoppach will report to Class AAA Indianapolis. He provides insurance in case Russell Martin or Tony Sanchez is injured and likely will join the team as a third catcher Sept. 1 when the active roster expands to 40.

Shoppach, 33, had a .638 on-base plus slugging percentage in 125 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners this season. The Mariners released him in June.

He signed with the Washington Nationals in July and played their minor league organization, but the Nationals released him July 31.

Shoppach's best season came five years ago, with the Cleveland Indians. In 403 plate appearances in 2008, Shoppach had a .348 on-base percentage and hit 21 home runs.

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Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.


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