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Alvarez’s next stop: Bradenton

MILWAUKEE — More than a month after saying “I do,” Pedro Alvarez finally went to the altar with the Pirates.

Alvarez, the team’s first-round draft pick, on Wednesday signed a four-year, major league contract with a guaranteed $6.355 million payout.

The deal includes a $6 million signing bonus, the same amount Alvarez verbally agreed to Aug. 15. The package could eventually be worth nearly $8 million, depending upon how quickly the hard-hitting third baseman rises to the major leagues.

Alvarez will report this weekend to the Pirates’ instructional league camp in Bradenton, Fla. The rosters for the Arizona Fall League are set, but the Pirates still might consider sending Alvarez to the Hawaii Winter League.

If winter ball is not an option, Alvarez will shut it down until it’s time to report to spring training — with the veterans and others on the 40-man roster — in mid-February. He almost certainly will open the 2009 season in Class A but could be in Double-A by July if things go well.

“I’m just here to play baseball,” Alvarez said. “I want to be the best player I can be, and I’ll work my hardest for the fans in Pittsburgh.”

After a six-week holdout that wound up netting Alvarez a better financial deal, many Pirates fans are sympathetic to Alvarez.

“I want the fans to judge me as the professional player that I am now,” Alvarez said. “Judge me on the field. I will work hardest to be a leader on and off the field and in the community.”

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Alvarez, lefty Tom Gorzelanny was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Gorzelanny sprained a ligament in his middle finger, but will not need surgery.

The Pirates must reinstate Gorzelanny and Phil Dumatrait (shoulder) onto the 40-man roster after the end of the World Series. That shouldn’t be too difficult a task for GM Neal Huntington.

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