Pirates notebook: Contenders holding on to hand

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DENVER -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle likened this week leading up to the Thursday trade deadline to a large, high-stakes poker game.

"I think a lot of teams still think they're in the hunt, I don't think there's been as many players that have been available in the past which is making it a very hot market," Hurdle said. "Everybody tries to hold to the end."

The market this year is considered a sellers' market, made tighter by the fact so many teams are within striking distance of the wild card and unwilling to part with value.

"Anybody who's got a player that can be moved is going to hold as long as he can to try and get somebody to fire first or more aggressively," Hurdle said. "And then as the clock continues to flip over and you run out of minutes and you run out of days, obviously it becomes ... it'll become a little more heated. For all intents and purposes there's a large poker game going on."

The Pirates are of course buyers. While they have not identified any specific areas of need, they are most likely to make a move for a pitcher, either a starter or reliever to bolster the rotation and bullpen down the stretch.

The Pirates have been linked to multiple Red Sox pitchers, at least one Arizona reliever and Phillies starter and former Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett.

It's not out of the question they add a bat, either.

"Our record was a lot better at this time last year," Hurdle said. "Just had more wins, more games over .500. That being said we're still in the hunt now. We are looking at a couple specific areas. I don't know if it's more [than last year]. They're different [needs]. Could be the same number but just different areas."

Either way, Hurdle said he is like-minded with general manager Neal Huntington when it comes to weighing the value of a short-term pick-up versus what the organization would have to give up.

"We are very like-minded in understanding the industry, supply versus demand, what can help now, versus maybe hamstring you later," Hurdle said. "So as you go through scenarios that we're revisiting now and you look at other trades that have just happened -- because every trade that happens dominoes into the next trade that's going to happen -- then you start talking about moving three or four prospects in your top 10, 15, which can get a little dicey.

"I'm with Neal. The fact of the matter is they're much more educated on the level and the quality of these prospects than I am. There's a lot of trust involved."

Alvarez back in lineup

Pedro Alvarez rejoined the lineup Sunday as Hurdle continued to look for a way to spark the offense after the Pirates scored just two runs Friday and Saturday combined at Coors Field.

"Health. See if we can find a different way to provide some offense here in this ballpark," Hurdle said. "We've scored two runs in 18 innings. With [catcher Russell] Martin being out I'll look for a different way to try and make up on some offense to get Pete back in and see if he can provide a spark for us."

Martin was given Sunday off, a usual routine when a day game follows a night game.

Marte update

Starling Marte is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday, but won't be able to begin working out hard again until he reports feeling better.

"We have to wait until he feels ... or doesn't feel any more of the pressure or the tension he's felt," Hurdle said. "Until that happens we continue to have him do some cardiovascular work, doing some limited activity work. He can't do anything more until we get him to the place where he says 'All right, I don't have that feeling anymore. Now I can go really exert and work and sweat and rip up some swings in the cage and go run crazy in the outfield and do all that.' "

Another LHP

The Pirates will face one more left-hander in San Francisco Monday night when Vance Worley (3-1, 3.10 ERA) is scheduled to take on Madison Bumgarner (12-7, 3.19 ERA).

After that it's Francisco Liriano (2-7, 4.18 ERA) vs. right-hander Tim Hudson (8-7, 2.65 ERA) Tuesday and Charlie Morton (5-10, 3.40 ERA) vs. right-hander Tim Lincecum (9-7, 3.96 ERA) Wednesday.

Jenn Menendez jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.

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