Pirates notebook: Clement finally back in majors
The Pirates called up Jeff Clement, who hasn't been in the major leagues since 2010, to provide a left-handed bat off the bench.
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About this time two years ago, Jeff Clement began a journey that led him away from the major leagues, onto a lengthy rehabilitation assignment and then to an extended stay in the minors.
Friday, that journey brought him back to PNC Park.
The Pirates called up Clement, a 29-year-old left-handed hitter, from Class AAA Indianapolis Friday to provide a left-handed bat off their bench. They optioned Yamaico Navarro to Indianapolis to make room for him.
"I think about where I was a year ago right now, coming off rehab and playing sparingly in Triple-A," Clement said. "To have a solid year this year and be back here, it's everything that I hoped it would be, and I'm excited about the opportunity."
Clement had not been in the majors since August 2010. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee that September and did not return to the field until late July 2011.
"I think with [that] type of surgery, it generally takes about two years to feel normal," he said. "That's where I'm at right now, two years. The first year back, there were a lot of ups and downs."
Clement played in 31 minor league games in '11. This season, he hit .276 with 16 home runs and 35 doubles in 112 games for Indianapolis.
"The beginning of the season, there was a little bit more pain involved," he said. "As the season goes on, it felt a lot better. This is as good as it feels at this point in time."
Clement hit .299 through the end of July, but was hitting .169 in August.
Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates could use Clement as a left-handed bat off the bench or put him at first base, moving Garrett Jones to right field and Travis Snider to left, against a right-handed pitcher.
"We feel that he was as good a candidate available as anything externally," Hurdle said. "This young man has committed himself for a number of years fighting back through some adversity."
The Pirates claimed left-hander Hisanori Takahashi off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, adding a left-hander to the bullpen. They will make a corresponding move when Takahashi joins the club.
Takahashi, 37, appeared in 42 games for the Angels this season and allowed 23 earned runs in 42 innings. He struck out 41 and walked 10.
As expected, the Pirates also optioned reliever Daniel McCutchen to Indianapolis and activated Jordy Mercer from the paternity list.
Andrew McCutchen led the NL batting race by three points heading into the game Friday night.
Hurdle said he would advise McCutchen to ignore the circumstances surrounding the man in second, San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.
Cabrera had 501 plate appearances this season, one shy of the 502 required to qualify for the batting title, but the rules stipulate that he can win the title if he has the highest average after enough hitless at-bats are added for him to qualify -- in this case, one.
"I'm really going to try to encourage Andrew that that really isn't of his concern," Hurdle said. "We're trying to keep our house in order here and focus on our game."
First Published August 25, 2012 12:00 am