Pirates Notebook: No answers for offensive woes
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CLEVELAND -- Fans aren't the only ones wondering if a move or two might help the Pirates' offense, which produced four runs in three losses to the Indians over the weekend.
General manager Neal Huntington is mulling possibilities, and that includes trades.
"It's very tempting," Huntington said Sunday before the Pirates' 5-2 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.
"Our pitching's done well. Our defense has done well. We've struggled to score runs."
Huntington is considering trades, but that doesn't look promising.
"At this point it's a significant sellers' market," he said. "There's not very many teams that are ready to make those type of moves because so many teams are around .500."
So he searches for other answers.
"You look at the internal options, whether it's on the existing major league club -- and Clint [Hurdle, the manager] has done a good job of trying to find different lineups and different matchups to get this club going -- or you look at what we've got in Triple-A," Huntington said.
The name that pops out is Indianapolis outfielder Alex Presley, the organization's minor league player of the year in 2010 who ranked third in the International League entering Sunday with a .335 batting average.
Huntington said Presley is so close that if the Pirates' current stretch of interleague games was mostly on the road -- where the designated hitter reduces the need for pinch-hitters -- instead of at PNC Park, Presley probably would have been called up from Class AAA.
As it is, lightly used Pedro Ciriaco remains on the Pirates roster because they need an extra infielder more than an outfielder, or what Huntington called "practicality."
Injuries have contributed to the Pirates' struggles on offense, and Huntington said all of the position players who are out are at least several days to a week away -- including catcher Ryan Doumit, who won't be back from a left ankle sprain until probably "deep into next month."
That makes it difficult to have patience.
"If somebody were a week away, you'd probably feel less compelled [to look at making moves] because our solution could be internal if we get one or two guys going and we have an injured guy come back," Huntington said.
The injured player closest to returning, Huntington said, is right-hander Mike Crotta, who has elbow inflammation, but as Huntington pointed out, relief pitching is probably the team's deepest spot.
Catcher Dusty Brown had a few reasons to mark the day.
He made his eighth start since being recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis May 30, and his seeing-eye single in the sixth inning broke an 0-for-19 hitting drought.
It also came on his second Father's Day with his son, Jude. And on his 29th birthday.
"I'm not that big on celebrating birthdays," Brown said. "Really, being a father and having Father's Day is kind of a bigger deal for me."
Pirates starter Paul Maholm and Penguins forward Mike Rupp and their families have become close during their time in Pittsburgh.
"I watch most of their games, and he watches most of ours," Maholm said.
Wouldn't you know it that Maholm's turn in the rotation came up during the Pirates' three-game set in Cleveland? That's Rupp's hometown, and he is a hardcore fan of all Cleveland teams.
This is how Rupp handled his divided loyalties before Maholm started Saturday night's game, as expressed in a Tweet:
"Can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm pulling for [Maholm] and the Buccos to trounce my beloved Cle Indians."
It didn't happen. Maholm and the Pirates lost to the Indians, 5-1.
• The Pirates have scored 44 first-inning runs, which ranks fourth in the major leagues.
• The series drew 100,437 fans, the first time the Indians have topped six figures in attendance for a three-game home stand since Sept. 19-21, 2008, against Detroit. The crowd Sunday was 30,023.
First Published June 20, 2011 12:00 am