Pirates Notebook: Alvarez taps out on new swing
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MILWAUKEE -- It started as a joke.
Pedro Alvarez was in the batting cage and played around with his swing, tapping his right toe before he fired. It turns out, Alvarez said, the toe tap benefits the motion.
"It was a joke and it felt good," he said. "What I needed to work on, it kind of fixed, and I stuck with it."
Alvarez was hitting .191 entering the final series of the season against the Brewers in Milwaukee, a season where he lost time to injury and a minor league stint to help him regain his swing. The improvements have been mild -- .250 in the past week, .211 in the previous two -- but the adjustment, he said, happened at a good point in the season.
"I think it's the right timing," he said. "The last couple games of the season, the last month or so, and then keep working on it in the offseason for next year."
The movement, which manager Clint Hurdle has said Alvarez adopted from Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, helps prevent Alvarez from over-rotating his front shoulder and keeps his body square to the pitcher. Alvarez said it also moves him off his back leg during his swing.
"I picked up the timing a little quicker than I thought I was going to pick it up," he said.
Jeff Locke started the 2011 season in Class AA Altoona after participating in spring training with the major league club. Now, he will start the final game of the Pirates season.
"I've never thrown in this month before, I've never eclipsed as many innings as I probably have now," he said. "It's definitely a good building, too, for next season."
Locke has a 4.97 ERA in three starts with the Pirates. Not only will he make the final start of the season, he will do so against the Brewers, a team fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs and featuring a potential National League batting champion in Ryan Braun.
"Getting to compete against a team going to the playoffs is definitely a lot of fun," he said.
In the offseason, Locke will return home to New Hampshire and hit the gym in an attempt to gain weight. He has stayed healthy through 166 innings this season and wants to keep it that way.
"Your arm will rest but your body's only going to be down for two or three weeks," he said.
New Hampshire's climate does not allow for much in the way of outdoor throwing, so after the holidays Locke will train in Sarasota, Fla., to prepare for spring training.
Ryan Doumit did not start Monday night, the third consecutive game missed, after taking foul balls to the body Friday. Hurdle said he was most likely unavailable to pinch-hit.
The Brewers originally listed Yovani Gallardo as their starter for the game Wednesday but altered that. If Gallardo pitched Wednesday, he would not be available for the first two games Saturday and Sunday of the National League Division Series. Also, starter Zack Greinke previously pitched Saturday and would have at least six days off, potentially more, if he did not pitch before the playoffs began. He may get to work in the game.
• Andrew McCutchen was scratched minutes before the game Monday after taking a batted ball in the lower abdomen in batting practice.
• Alex Presley is tied for the National League rookie lead in triples with six.
First Published September 27, 2011 12:00 am