Pirates notebook: Focus is on winning with September call-ups

Neal Huntington said Sunday that the Pirates’ decisions to move players up today as major league rosters expand from 25 to 40 will all be made based on their ability to help the team win.

Huntington didn’t go into specifics about which players will be called up in his weekly meeting with the media, but said the organization’s philosophy about September call-ups has changed dramatically the past two years since being in contention this late in the season.

“We are going to have some guys this year who probably do deserve to be called up that won’t be, either because of numbers or because of a fit on the roster. Our first three to four, even five years here, the September call-ups were about opportunity, rewards and guys who were getting a chance to see if they belong on next year’s club,” Huntington said.

“This year’s call-ups and last year’s call-ups have been about giving a player’s skill set that Clint [Hurdle] can use to win a game. So there may be some guys you look at and say ‘Why did he get called up?’ Or ‘Why didn’t he get called up?’ But all these guys are guys who can help Clint manage to win a game.”

Hurdle said the danger in September call-ups is that a club can add too many players, overloading the clubhouse and dugout, which can create a bit of a distraction.

“You can’t have too many; it has to be a workable number,” Hurdle said. “People who are going to be used, maybe to pitch, to play, help you win a game. This is not about taking care of sixth-year free agents, sometimes that is necessary to get guys back.

“But we have worked ourselves the past couple of years to be performance-related. We want to take care of guys who have put up good campaigns and have been consistent throughout or that we acquired late and have shown us something that we need to look at, as well.”

No trades

The second trade deadline passed Sunday and the Pirates didn’t make any deals, meaning the only help for the roster they will get for the playoff push will have to come from within the organization.

Huntington said they were interested in making some trades to bolster the roster, but couldn’t because a number of teams blocked players by claiming them off waivers and prevented them from being available.

He said they weren’t just looking for bullpen help, but were open to adding players at any number of positions if the right deal presented itself.

“We have been aggressive in claims, as has much of the industry, so there are not a lot of players that we feel are significant additions for us available that have cleared waivers or have gotten to us on a waiver-claim situation,” Huntington said. “It hasn’t been a lack of effort or a lack of interest.”

“We have added John [Axford], that has been a good add, but our claims have kind of been all over the map. It has been position players, it has been starting pitchers, it has been bullpen guys — it has been a lower percentage of successful claims than ever.”

Four known additions

Although Huntington didn’t say which players will be called up today, there are four known players who will be added to the roster at some point.

Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole were optioned to the minors over the weekend to make room on the roster for Andrew Lambo and Brent Morel, but will return as the 26th and 27th men on the roster.

Pitchers Stolmy Pimentel (right ankle sprain) and Charlie Morton (hip inflammation) are on the disabled list and will be activated, as well.

Hurdle said Morton will throw at least two simulated games and be re-evaluated, but said Pimentel will rejoin the bullpen this week.

“[Pimentel] threw a two-inning outing the other night in [Class AAA Indianapolis] and it was the best outing he has had,” Hurdle said. “We are going to revisit with Charlie … to decide whether we bring him back yet.”

Alvarez ailing

First baseman Pedro Alvarez (sprained foot) is hitting off a tee, but still unable to run, so his return to the lineup is uncertain.

Hurdle said outfielder Travis Snider (hamstring discomfort) seemed to show some signs of progress Saturday after a workout and is probably the closer of the two to be back available to play.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.

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