ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates made a number of roster moves Monday as major league rosters expanded to 40 for September.
Right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole was recalled from rookie-level Bristol and started the game against St. Louis.
Cole had been "optioned" Friday to make room on the 25-man roster for Andrew Lambo because the Pirates were short-handed with injuries to Travis Snider (hamstring) and Pedro Alvarez (foot).
The Pirates are expected to make a similar move today with pitcher Jeff Locke. He was optioned to Class AAA Indianapolis Saturday to make room for Brent Morel on the 25-man roster. Locke is scheduled to start tonight against the Cardinals.
The Pirates also activated right-handed relief pitcher Stolmy Pimentel from the 15-day disabled list (ankle) and recalled catcher Tony Sanchez from Indianapolis.
Sanchez, who began the season with the Pirates, worked on his defense and throwing at Indianapolis and said he is much more confident and much better than he was in April.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said there will be more additions to the Pirates active roster, but the organization wanted the Class AAA Indianapolis Indians to finish their season first. Their last game was Monday night.
"Some of them already showed up [this weekend] with Lambo, and Morel came up and Pimentel is back," Hurdle said. "They have one more game to go [Monday night] in Indianapolis, and we anticipate some guys filling out that requirement part of the season and joining us [today]."
Hurdle didn't say which players would be join the Pirates, but outfielder Gregory Polanco is expected to be one of them. He was sent to Indianapolis last week because he was mired in a 1-for-30 slump.
Hurdle said Polanco was in a "better place" with his timing and that getting away from the majors and the pressure of a pennant race was good for him.
The Pirates selected the contract of right-handed pitcher John Holdzkom and optioned him to Indianapolis.
That move was made Sunday before the deadline for putting together a 40-man playoff roster, so Holdzkom is eligible to be on the 25-man playoff roster.
To make room for Holdzkom, first baseman Chris McGuiness was designated for assignment. Holdzkom, 26, is somewhat of a journeyman who spent time with two independent teams in Texas -- the Amarillo Sox and the San Angelo Colts -- this year before the Pirates signed him and sent him to Altoona, where he had some success as a reliever.
He is 6 feet 7, and his fastball has been reportedly clocked at 100 mph.
The Pirates welcomed back outfielder Travis Snider as he pinch-hit in the top of the eighth inning Monday and flied out to center. It was his first action since Wednesday, when he strained his hamstring running out a bunt.
Hurdle said that Snider had improved by Saturday and likely would have been in the lineup Monday had he been able to work out Sunday. The field was wet due to early morning rains Sunday, though, and the Pirates cautiously waited until Monday to have him test his ability to run. The news was not so good on Pedro Alvarez (foot), who Hurdle said still has some work to do in order to get back into the lineup.
Although the Pirates, Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are vying for the National League Central title and the two wild-card spots, the last-place Chicago Cubs likely hold the key to the division.
The Cubs (62-76) play 14 games in the final three weeks against the Brewers, Pirates and Cardinals, and they have been playing better the past few days. The Cubs beat the Brewers, 4-2, Monday after splitting a four-game weekend series in St. Louis.
The Pirates will play three games at Wrigley Field this weekend, and Hurdle said the Cubs are a dangerous team after bringing up several young hitters who are swinging the bats well..
"They have been hitting some homers," Hurdle said of the Cubs. "I think it is a pre-requirement now that, if you get called up by the Cubs, you have to hit two homers in your first two games. They have played well. The last couple, three weeks they have improved, are engaged, no doubt.
"They will be more than a willing participant."
Paul Zeise: email@example.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.