Pre-game: Alvarez getting the night off


Clint Hurdle is giving Pedro Alvarez the night off tonight but had him out doing early hitting work. The Pirates third baseman is a notoriously slow starter, but in 11 games this year he’s hitting just .200 with just one extra-base hit, a double, and he’s gone eight games without an RBI.

Hurdle wouldn’t say whether it was something with Alvarez’s swing that they were working on, but he did outline what he needs to do at the plate.

“What I’d like him to do is go up there and be reactionary,” Hurdle said. “He hasn’t gotten off to the start that he would like or we would like but it’s still early and I’m just trying to get him to focus on a couple absolutes at the plate. See the ball, number one, get a good pitch to hit, number two, know that he can attack the ball anywhere in the strike zone, it doesn’t need to be in a teacup. And just hit it hard where it’s pitched. I can tell you that.”

Alvarez said he was just going out and working on improving.

“It doesn’t change from yesterday and won’t change tomorrow,” he said. “But I’m just refocusing on little adjustments I need to make. Just overall, mechanically, mentally, whatever needs to be done.”

Steve Pearce will get the start at third base. He made his first career appearance at the hot corner in a major league game on Saturday.

Here are the lineups:

For the Pirates: Tabata 7, Walker 4, McCutchen 8, Diaz 9, Pearce 5, Overbay 3, Snyder 2, Cedeno 6, Maholm 1

For the Brewers: Weeks 4, Gomez 8, Braun 7, Fielder 3, McGehee 5, Betancourt 6, Almonte 9, Lucroy 2, Wolf 1

The other big note, of course, is that catcher Chris Snyder is off the disabled list and making the start tonight. Snyder, who was slowed by lower back stiffness in spring training, went 8 for 20 with two doubles, a home run, eight RBI and six runs scored in six rehab games with Single-A Bradenton and said his endurance is good.

“I caught five or so games down there and built up the innings every time and ended up with back-to-back nine innings,” Snyder said. “I think mid-season you catch back-to-back games you’re going to be tired the next day no matter what. And I was tired but the back was fine so if that was the case, I was happy with it. I don’t mind being tired. But as of right now the endurance was built up and I’m ready to go.”

One last interesting matchup note going into tonight’s game: Prince Fielder is a career .071 batter against left-hander Paul Maholm, with a 3 for 42 record in 46 plate appearances and no hits for extra bases. Furthermore, Fielder faced Maholm 10 times last year and didn’t have a hit. He struck out three times and walked once, going 0 for 9.