Pirates Notebook: Waiver claim chosen over prospect for spot

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The Pirates made a commitment to restructuring their bench -- adding more speed and doing away with John Bowker's power bat -- by claiming outfielder Xavier Paul off waivers Tuesday from the Los Angeles Dodgers and designating Bowker for assignment.

Bowker's assignment became official Thursday morning before the game with San Francisco.

The Pirates brought Paul in to be a left-handed bat off the bench and play all three outfield positions.

He is said to have a better throwing arm than Bowker and run better, so he can be used to pinch-run in late-game situations.

That might sound like a description of Alex Presley, a player already under the Pirates' control and on the 40-man roster at Class AAA Indianapolis.

Manager Clint Hurdle confirmed Presley, 25, was considered before the decision was made to claim Paul, 26.

"He's got major league experience and he's done more time [in Class AAA ] with more success," Hurdle said of Paul. "We had that conversation about Alex Presley, I actually had it with [director of player development] Kyle Stark."

Paul has played in 62 major league games over the past three seasons and has a .233 batting average (34 for 146) with three stolen bases and 33 strikeouts to 10 walks with one home run.

Presley was a September call-up for the Pirates last season and appeared in 19 games, getting six hits in 23 at-bats and stealing a base. He struck out eight times and walked once.

In terms of the minor league numbers, Paul spent parts of eight seasons in the Dodgers system and hit .291 with 648 strikeout in 721 games. He stole 93 bases and hit 70 home runs.

Presley -- like Paul a Louisianan -- is hitting .346 in Indianapolis (27 for 78) this season with three home runs and 15 strikeouts and nine walks.

In his six seasons in the minors, Presley has a .286 batting average with 39 home runs with 390 strikeouts in 536 games and has stolen 61 bases.

This move has as much to do with defense, though, as Hurdle expressed the confidence he has in Paul's ability to cover the unusually large left field at PNC Park and spacious outfields on the Pirates' upcoming visits to Colorado and San Diego.

What will this acquisition do to Presley's confidence as a prospect when he sees a similar player signed off waivers and playing for the parent club?

"It obviously heightens Alex's awareness," Hurdle said. "He says, 'You know what, I can be that guy. I need to keep doing what I'm doing.' And he's gotten off to a pretty good start in Triple-A."

Bringing the Wood

Even as Brandon Wood started his third consecutive game at shortstop, relegating Ronny Cedeno -- who started 19 of the first 24 games at the position -- to bench duty Thursday, Hurdle rejected the notion that Wood has leapfrogged Cedeno on the depth chart.

"He's played three games," Hurdle said of Wood.

"I'm just riding the little hotter hand. My job is to get everything I can out of every player on that roster. I, by no means, am finished trying to get the best I can out of Ronny Cedeno. By no means finished. Right now, I'm riding the hot hand. [Wood]. What I've heard, he's dependable, so we're going to get a better look while we're at home.

"And when we go on the road, Ronny is going to get some more games."

Buried treasure

• Hurdle was his usual straight-shooting self when he delivered the news to Bowker that the club was designating him for assignment. "Honesty is always the best policy," Hurdle said. "He was third depth in left, third depth in right, third depth at first."

• The Pirates, who hit the road to play three games in Colorado beginning tonight and three in San Diego, already have won three road series this season after winning four all last season.

Today

Game: Pirates vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m., Coors Field.

TV, Radio: Root Sports, WPGB-FM (104.7).

Pitching: RHP Kevin Correia (3-2, 3.48 ERA) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (3-1, 2.67 ERA)

Key matchup: Correia vs. Rocky Mountain wildness. The pitcher has been disproportionately wild against Colorado, issuing 40 walks, hitting three batters and throwing three wild pitches in 82 innings against the Rockies.

Hidden stat: Chacin has struck out 14 right-handed batters this season, but just four left-handed batters.



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