On the Pirates: Pedro Alvarez ... lost in the Shadows?
Going into the series in Cleveland, Pedro Alvarez was hitting .129 with one homer and three RBIs in June.
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As the struggles for Pedro Alvarez continue, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he wants the third baseman to commit to an approach.
In turn, Hurdle said he remains committed to Alvarez.
Hurdle said there is no date on the calendar for the length of time the Pirates will keep Alvarez on the major league roster while he sorts through his offensive issues.
"The swing's going to tell me," Hurdle said.
He wants Alvarez to develop a consistent, and successful, approach at the plate instead of developing a new one every time he hits a rough patch.
"If you keep changing, you become good at changing," Hurdle said. "You've got to commit to something, and you've got to give it some time."
Hurdle said he believed Alvarez would do just fine in Class AAA.
One person who believes Alvarez will do just fine in the major leagues is former college teammate Ryan Flaherty, a fellow first-round draft pick in 2008 who is in his rookie year with the Orioles.
"I mean this when I say this: He's one of the hardest workers," Flaherty said. "I've never seen a guy hit as much as him. He hits, he hits, he hits."
Flaherty called Alvarez one of his closest friends, and the two spent some free time together during the Pirates' road trip to Baltimore.
"Good things happen to good people who stay the course," Flaherty said. "I think it's easy to get caught up in the negativity and this and that, but I'm confident and I know that he's going to have a good professional career just because of how hard he works."
What's a guy gotta do to get a vote around here?
Entering this weekend, Andrew McCutchen ranked first among National League center fielders in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage; second in home runs and third in hits.
So, naturally, he is 11th in All-Star voting among National League outfielders.
McCutchen looks as if he will be the latest player to be snubbed by fan voting for the All-Star Game, though he still can make the team if National League manager Tony La Russa selects him. But after being left off the 2010 team -- a year he thought he had a good chance of making the roster -- McCutchen said he learned not to focus on the selection process.
"If it happens, it happens," he said. "You don't want to get your hopes up."
Fans can vote until June 28. The All-Star game will be played July 10 in Kansas City.
Clint Hurdle was in La Russa's position in 2008 when he managed the National League team.
"It was one of the more challenging exercises I'd ever been through as a manager," Hurdle said. "The number of picks that you get, the team that's handed to you, then you've got that one vote, then you get this, then guys pitch on Sunday, they can't even pitch in the game. ... It's kind of like a carnival at the end of the day, trying to figure it out."
Hurdle said it is good to have fans involved, but because of the process he does not get too worked up about the results.
"There are going to be guys that aren't going to get a lot of votes," Hurdle said. "There are going to be guys that get a lot of votes that don't deserve them. Hopefully, we can make some sense through it all as we work through the process and pick the team."
McCutchen is in pretty good company if the fans do not select him. Joey Votto was added to the 2010 game by way of a last-chance fan vote. At the end of the season, he was named National League MVP.
Astros needed McDonald vs. Cain
James McDonald watched the final few outs of Matt Cain's perfect game Wednesday night and immediately thought back to April, when his single kept Cain from achieving that milestone.
"I was like 'dang,' " McDonald said. "'He could have had two perfect games in one year.'"
Cain one-hit the Pirates, without allowing any other baserunners, when the Giants beat the Pirates, 5-0, April 13. Few in the Pirates clubhouse were surprised to see him finish the deed this time.
"He has a deceiving fastball," Neil Walker said. "He's one of the guys that kind of has a fastball that rises. If he keeps the ball down, he gets a lot of strikes that are low in the strike zone."
Hurdle saw Cain many times when he managed division foe Colorado and watched a lot of tape on Cain while preparing the Texas Rangers for the 2010 World Series.
"The kid's really grown," Hurdle said. "He was a thrower when he first got to the big leagues."
Now, he has added movement to his pitches that has made him even more dangerous, Hurdle said.
Still, McDonald joked of Cain's perfect outing Wednesday, "I probably would have gotten a hit"
Crack! Boom! Bam!
The Pirates fell victim to a broken-bat home run for the second time in the past nine months when Chris Davis, pictured at right, snapped his bat at the handle Wednesday.
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton also hit a broken-bat home run in a 1-0 Pirates loss in September.
"It never looks right when you see the helicopter in the dugout, the top half of [the bat], and the ball landing in the seats," Hurdle said.
But it is becoming a bit more common as more bat companies emerge.
"You've got a lot of bat companies in play, and the wood's not quality," Hurdle said. "Everybody can't have good wood."
Tony Watson, who served up the slider that landed in the seats, said it did not appear as if Davis mishit the ball.
"He got some barrel on it, obviously, and it just took off," Watson said.
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 am