CINCINNATI -- The Pirates do not yet have a firm timetable for their top prospects to arrive in Pittsburgh, but infielder/outfielder Neil Walker and starter Brad Lincoln are first in line at Class AAA Indianapolis and could make it by the next homestand.
Or, in Walker's case, it could be sooner depending on the status of Steve Pearce's right ankle that was injured here Monday night.
And not at all far behind Walker and Lincoln are third baseman Pedro Alvarez and outfielder Jose Tabata.
No matter when this all plays out, simple math dictates that four arrivals will mean four departures, and that is not being lost on those currently on the major-league roster, manager John Russell said Monday.
"Absolutely. Guys out there, yeah, they can read a media guide, read a newspaper, they know what's going on," Russell said, motioning from his office to the clubhouse. "And that's healthy. That's competition. You know you've got somebody breathing down your neck, you've got to perform."
Russell credited general manager Neal Huntington for having the team in this position.
"First and foremost, it means we're moving in the right direction," Russell said. "What we started and what we've believed in is coming. Some of those guys are close to being at this level. It's even exciting to look all the way down to Altoona and Bradenton, some of the performances that we're getting there. But now, you look at Indianapolis, we have some guys knocking at the door. That's exciting."
It also is necessary on some levels, especially with Aki Iwamura and Jeff Clement still below .200, Lastings Milledge still seeking his first home run, and the starting rotation still somewhat unsettled.
Huntington, who has been away from the major-league team for most of the past two weeks while preparing for the draft, was asked how long the Pirates could stand by Iwamura and Clement, in particular.
"As we pass the one-quarter point of the season, we continue to evaluate each player subjectively and objectively," Huntington emailed in response. "Obviously, we would benefit from increased productivity but need to ensure we make the right decision."
Third baseman Andy LaRoche was held out of the lineup a third consecutive game because of what Russell described for the first time as back stiffness. Previously, the move had been seen as precautionary.
No decision will be made on LaRoche's status for tonight until after he reports to the ballpark.
"He's feeling better," Russell said.
Milledge, on the lack of a home run: "That'll come. I hit four home runs in a week once. It'll come as long as I keep tacking on my RBIs and extra-base hits. There's really no reason to get all bent out of shape over it, you know? I just haven't been able to put together multi-hit games. But, for the most part, I've been where I want to be pretty much the whole season."
Milledge ranks third in the National League with a .424 average -- 14 for 33 -- with runners in scoring position.
• Russell kept Ryan Doumit at the No. 7 spot a second consecutive game after his huge day Sunday, 3 for 5 with the walkoff home run. It paid off again, as he went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .292.
• Diego Moreno, perhaps the Pirates' hardest-throwing relief prospect, was promoted from high Class A Bradenton to Class AA Altoona. Moreno, a 22-year-old right-hander, had a 1.37 ERA in 16 appearances, and opponents were batting .121.
• Bradenton starter Nate Adcock, a 22-year-old right-hander, was named Florida State League pitcher of the week after going 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts, with 12 strikeouts.
• Altoona's Alex Presley had a game for the ages Monday: 4 for 5 with two home runs, a triple, double and eight RBIs, short only a single of the cycle. Presley, 24, is a 5-foot-9, 180-pound center fielder, and his average is up to .379.