Pirates Notebook: Promotions unlikely this week
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ATLANTA -- Don't expect to see the likes of Donnie Veal (surgery?) or the triumvirate of Brad Lincoln, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez (not quite ready) any day now at PNC Park.
On his radio show Sunday, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington spoke about the injuries and improvements surrounding some of the club's brightest prospects.
• On Veal: This left-handed starter has a ulnar collateral ligament issue in his throwing elbow. He is scheduled to seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, which often is a precursor to surgery, if not a lengthy recuperation period at minimum. Veal was placed on the disabled list last Tuesday.
• On Lincoln: This right-handed starter will not be recalled this homestand, with swing man Jeff Karstens scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, Huntington said. "Brad has had a quality May, and we're still working through the process with him. Sometimes, Triple-A stats don't always convert to major league performance, but Brad's certainly getting closer. We're probably still a ways away."
Huntington talked about how Lincoln is using his changeup more often and more effectively. That makes his breaking ball more effective. "But four or five outings doesn't mean he's mastered it."
• On Tabata and Alvarez: "Both are showing quality signs -- Pedro swinging [the] bat better, recognizing mistakes he made earlier this year; Jose has had stretches where he's had great six weeks. And we're looking forward to seeing him do things that will succeed over a full season." However, Huntington noted that Altoona center fielder Alex Presley is next in line for a promotion to Class AAA Indianapolis once Tabata comes to the majors.
Huntington added that the simple fact Lincoln, Tabata and Alvarez remain in Indianapolis could put to rest the critics who maintain the Pirates hold such players down to earn more time before arbitration later.
"We're essentially through the arbitration window, so the reality is that we're waiting for some finer finishing touches on all these guys. Need isn't the right reason to promote a prospect."
Neil Walker, everyday utility player?
Huntington called it a possibility, if the Pine-Richland product maintains the performance from his first week of being recalled.
"Neil has swung the bat exceptionally well all year. Had one blip on radar that set him back," Huntington said, referring to a brief benching. "Bounced around the field and has done well at all positions. He's driven the ball, and that's meant a lot. He's come up and done an admirable job at the major league level. Most important, he's swung the bat and given us quality plate appearances."
Walker can become an everyday player, Huntington added, "if Neil continues to play well. We've had a very good six-day look to build upon a very solid finish in Triple-A. There's certainly opportunity for Neil to continue earning playing time and, if that progresses, an everyday role. That's something we look at, down the road, as a possibility."
Sunday, Walker had his second hitless game in the six since his recall from Indianapolis. He is hitting .292.
• Jeff Clement, who tied the score at 2-2 with his fifth homer this year (all on the road), is 6 for 17 (.352) in his past five starts. Manager John Russell said, "Hopefully that's a big boost for him. He swung the bat decent in Cincinnati. Tough game here in his last game [0 for 4 with an error Friday], but today with that big home run, hopefully, that will give a little confidence to him."
• Jack Taschner is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday (left hamstring tightness), but Huntington said he may not get reactivated until Wednesday or Thursday. Taschner was scheduled for another rehab appearance tonight with Altoona. He yielded two hits and one earned run, walked one and struck out one in one inning Saturday.
• Outfielder Ryan Church continues to be bothered off and on by an ailing right wrist.
First Published May 31, 2010 12:00 am