Pirates Notebook: Trade spurs conflict for Jones

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Garrett Jones had mixed emotions when he first learned that the Pirates were bringing in his former teammate in Minnesota, Justin Morneau.

For Jones, who has struggled this season with a .240 batting average and 13 home runs, it means less playing time since both are left-handed hitting first basemen. But it also means his team is improving by adding a player he considers a friend.

"It's tough, it's frustrating," Jones said.

"But, at the same time, we're in a good spot. We're playing good ball. For me, personally, it's just about winning right now. I want to be in there, obviously, and, when I am in there, I'll do anything I can to help the team."

Jones and Morneau played together in the Twins' organization from 2003-09, when Jones signed a minor league contract with the Pirates. Morneau blocked Jones from reaching the majors, though Jones was a bit of a late bloomer.

"It's funny to see him come into the clubhouse again," Jones said. "He's definitely an upgrade for us. We've been friends for a long time. Hopefully, I can still get in there and play and help the team when I get my chance."

The Pirates' move came one day after Jones broke out of an offensive rut by going 3 for 4 with a double, a home run and four RBIs. He could still see some playing time, manager Clint Hurdle said, especially in right field. As Starling Marte continues to recover from a hand contusion, the Pirates could insert Jones into the outfield and move the recently acquired Marlon Byrd to left field.

But Hurdle said he is not motivated to find opportunities for players who have been given chances since the start of the season.

"We've got less than 30 games to play," Hurdle said. "It's not about so much getting guys opportunity anymore. Some of these moves have been based on opportunity that's been given for five months. Some of these moves have been made to look at how we can best strengthen ourselves for the last [28] games of this season and into the postseason."

Jones has spent most of the season platooning at first base with the right-handed Gaby Sanchez. Hurdle declined to say whether Morneau would play first every day or platoon with Sanchez.

Pimentel called up

The Pirates recalled right-handed pitcher Stolmy Pimentel and optioned right-handed pitcher Jared Hughes and outfielder Andrew Lambo to Class AA Altoona Saturday. The Pirates optioned Lambo to make room for Morneau on the active roster.

Saturday was the deadline for teams to set their playoff rosters, although there is some flexibility. The Pirates could have as many as four additional players eligible because they have four players who have been on the disabled list for at least 60 days.

Pimentel, 23, was acquired this offseason as part of a six-player swap that sent Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates received Pimentel, Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus Jr.

It was the first time Pimentel had been added to a major league roster.

The Pirates anticipate recalling Hughes and Lambo Tuesday when Altoona's season ends.

Grilli update

Closer Jason Grilli allowed one hit and struck out one in a scoreless inning Saturday in a rehabilitation start for Altoona. Grilli threw 13 pitches, including nine strikes.

He is tentatively scheduled to make another appearance Monday for Altoona.

Polanco promoted

The Pirates promoted outfielder Gregory Polanco to Class AAA Indianapolis Saturday. Polanco is one of the team's top five prospects. He hit .263 with 6 homers, 13 doubles, 2 triples and 41 RBIs in 68 games for Altoona. He started the season in Class A Bradenton.


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino.


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