Pirates Notebook: Pearce eager for 'real chance'
Pirates first baseman Steve Pearce on replacing Adam LaRoche, "All I've asked for is a real chance."
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When Steve Pearce joins the Pirates tonight in Phoenix, he will not do so as a bench player.
Not this time.
General manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell each said yesterday after the Adam LaRoche trade that Pearce, recalled again from Class AAA Indianapolis, will replace LaRoche at first base and play regularly.
"When we sent Steve back out, he went out with a great attitude and did all the things that have made him successful at that level," Huntington said, referring to Pearce following a three-week, 1-for-12 stint on the Pirates' bench by batting .382 with two home runs for Indianapolis after being sent back July 8. "We want to see if those can translate here. He's going to get an extended look, which is something he really hasn't had."
The decision is surprising not only because Pearce, 26, has been a disappointment for the Pirates the past three years, with a .254 average, four home runs over 69 games. It also confines their hottest hitter, Garrett Jones, to the outfield when there are more options there than at first base. Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young, also swinging well, will keep splitting time on the corners.
But finding out about Pearce at his primary position clearly is the priority.
"Let's get Steve a few at-bats and see how it goes," Russell said. "He's done about all he can do in the minors."
Pearce was delighted by the recall and the show of faith.
"All I've asked for is a real chance, and it's great that they believe in me to give that to me," he said last night. "I've been swinging a lot better, and I want to bring that to the Pirates."
Why not recall outfielder Lastings Milledge, batting .400 in 10 games for Indianapolis?
"This is no slight against Lastings," Huntington said. "We've got one player who's made the adjustments we're looking for. We've got another who's in the middle of making those adjustments."
Spare outfielder Jeff Salazar, clearly filling roster space until Milledge arrives, is 0 for 9 as a pinch-hitter, including grounding into a double play yesterday.
Wilson missed a second game because of the tight left hamstring, and there was no indication he will return tonight, either: He took no infield or batting practice, and his leg was heavily bandaged after the game.
"I'm not sure what's going on with it right now," Wilson said.
• One of the two prospects acquired for LaRoche, shortstop Argenis Diaz, had to be added to the still-full 40-man roster.
• Several Milwaukee players were asking why LaRoche was in the Pirates' dugout after being traded. "Why was he still in uniform?" Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder said. "I'd have been gone."
• LaRoche's wife, Jenn, already had flown to Phoenix, where the wives of the Pirates' players and coaches are having their annual gathering.
First Published July 23, 2009 12:00 am