Pirates Notebook: DH or no DH, roster stays put

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HOUSTON -- The Pirates will not recall anyone from the minor leagues before the interleague series that starts tonight against the Cleveland Indians.

"We're holding pat," said manager Clint Hurdle, referring to the team's decision not to call up a player to serve as designated hitter against the American League team.

Hurdle previously said that the Pirates might bring up Class AAA Indianapolis outfielder Alex Presley, who leads the Indians with a .336 average and eight home runs. Because the Pirates play only three games in an AL park before returning to PNC Park for six games without a designated hitter against the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, they will keep their roster the way it is.

The Pirates, at any given time, have two outfielders and two infielders on their bench. Were they to add Presley, they would have three outfielders and one infielder capable of playing shortstop or third base.

"If you bring up that outfielder, and you move your infielder, now you go back home for six National League[-style] games, trying to play with one extra infielder. However you want to put him on the left side of the infield, you could get caught quite easily," Hurdle said.

He also said recent improvement by Garrett Jones and Xavier Paul, both left-handed hitters, tempered the need to add a left-handed hitter.

Paul's improvement

Paul explained that his recent improvement as a hitter stemmed, in part, from waiting back on his swing and letting the ball get closer to the catcher.

"Just letting the ball travel, we work on that every day," Paul said. "Being able to go the other way more consistently, I think that's helped me a lot."

Paul homered, singled and doubled, all to the opposite field, Wednesday night.

"They were pitches that were a little bit away from me, on the outer third of the plate," he said. "I did a better job yesterday staying on the ball and not pulling off it."

Thursday, he went 1 for 4. He is 5 for 11 in his past four games.

"They have a couple drills that we do, but it's more of your thought process, having a plan when you go up there and sticking to it," he said.

Scoring change

The Major League Baseball scoring committee officially changed Andrew McCutchen's double Saturday to an error by New York Mets third baseman Daniel Murphy. The scoring change broke McCutchen's hitting streak, which would have been at a career-high 15 games after he went 1 for 2 Thursday. He also lost two RBIs.

"At the end of the day, Andrew McCutchen is going to have another 15-game hitting streak," Hurdle said.

Buried treasure

James McDonald did not pitch his best game Thursday, but a pitch he made to Carlos Lee in the fifth gave the Pirates a chance to regain the lead.

McDonald already had allowed a run and Hunter Pence had doubled with one out. Lee stroked the ball down the left-field line, plenty long enough for a home run, but left of the foul pole. On the next pitch, McDonald froze Lee with a curveball for a called third strike.

"It was big," McDonald said. "He hit that long strike, I had to keep focused."

He intentionally walked Brett Wallace, but got Matt Downs to end the inning on a groundout.


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com .


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