PHOENIX — At an impasse regarding what to do with Pedro Alvarez in light of his defensive struggles, the Pirates coaches and front office are discussing their options with the third baseman.
“I think we’ve got to figure out the best way to get his bat in the lineup as much as we can,” assistant general manager Kyle Stark said Sunday. “I think we’re going through that right now.”
Alvarez has committed a league-leading 24 errors this season, most of them on errant throws. He made three poor throws Saturday night before manager Clint Hurdle removed him in the sixth inning.
Alvarez no longer has minor league options, so the Pirates have to keep him on the active roster. Stark and Hurdle downplayed the possibility of immediately moving him off third base, saying if that became a reality it probably would come at a later date.
Josh Harrison started at third Sunday, and he likely will play there more frequently when left fielder Starling Marte comes off the disabled list.
“Harrison is more than a viable option,” Hurdle said. “He’s our best defender on the club right now at third base.”
The Pirates added another option Sunday by signing free agent Jayson Nix, 31, a utility man who can play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots. He has played most frequently at third in the major leagues.
Nix exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league contract Friday with the Tamp Bay Rays. He said the Pirates have had some interest in signing him in the past.
“Since I’ve talked to Clint [Sunday] morning, we just talked about what I’ve done the last few years of my career, which is playing everywhere across the infield and maybe even more than that,” Nix said.
Nix has played in parts of seven major league seasons for the Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. He hit 14 home runs in 2010. In 2013 with the Yankees, his most recent extended major league stint, he hit .236 with a .308 on-base percentage and .311 slugging percentage.
“It’s a right-handed bat that has some barrel,” said Hurdle, who was with the Rockies organization when they drafted Nix in the first round in 2001 and managed him with the Rockies in 2008.
The Pirates optioned third baseman Brent Morel to Class AAA Indianapolis and designated infielder Dean Anna for assignment to clear a spot on the active and 40-man rosters for Nix.
Nix also provides insurance for Neil Walker, who did not start his second consecutive game because of tightness in his lower back that began Saturday in batting practice. Walker said he felt better Sunday morning.
Marte works his way back
Marte went 1 for 4 with a double and two strikeouts Sunday in his rehabilitation outing with Indianapolis. Marte, who is on the seven-day concussion disabled list, led off and played left field.
He is tentatively scheduled to play another nine innings in the field today and serve as the designated hitter Tuesday before the Pirates re-evaluate him.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.