Pirates notebook: Clint Barmes heads for rehab in minors


DETROIT -- Clint Barmes was scheduled to join Class AA Altoona Wednesday for a rehabilitation assignment, manager Clint Hurdle said. It is the latest step in Barmes' recovery from a strained left groin that sent him to the 15-day disabled list.

The Pirates created a tentative rehabilitation schedule that will run through the end of August, Hurdle said.

"I think there'll be a succession built in similar to spring training because it's been six weeks since he played," he said.

Barmes was not in the Curve lineup Wednesday night. Hurdle said Barmes will play five innings at first, interspersed with days off, before increasing the workload to seven innings. At some point, the Pirates will transfer his rehabilitation assignment to Class AAA Indianapolis.

"There won't be any back-to-back play for a while," Hurdle said.

Catcher is re-acquired

The Pirates re-acquired catcher Ramon Cabrera Wednesday, claiming the minor leaguer off waivers from the Detroit Tigers after trading him there two years ago.

Cabrera went to the Tigers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Andy Oliver at the 2012 Winter Meetings. The Pirates optioned Cabrera to Class AA Altoona.

Cabrera, 24, had a .329 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage for Class AA Erie this season. He reached Class AAA for 39 games in 2013.

To make room for Cabrera on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated minor league right-hander Wirfin Obispo for assignment. In 23 appearances for Class AAA Indianapolis, Obispo, 29, had a 3.16 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 252/3 innings.

Talk about a good fit

Gregory Polanco's move to the second spot in the batting order has coincided with his recent improvement.

Entering a game Wednesday night in Detroit, Polanco was hitting .328 with a .525 slugging percentage since July 27, when he moved primarily to the No. 2 spot against right-handers.

"The second spot is good," Hurdle said. "I think with [Russell] Martin, the main part, hitting behind him, they're going to continue to try and get him and not walk him. He's had a good eye and he's taken some walks, which has helped everybody, and he's swinging the bat, as we've all seen, much better the last two weeks."

Martin has hit third with Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker hurt.

Alvarez starts as DH

Pedro Alvarez returned to the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 2, serving as the designated hitter against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Alvarez has lost his job at third base for the time being and recently started working at first base.

"I think it's important to get an opportunity to bundle some at-bats here moving forward," Hurdle said. "This gives us a very seamless transition and opportunity to do so."

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.

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