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Ohlendorf out; Alvarez benched

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CINCINNATI — I spoke a few hours ago with Ross Ohlendorf, who said it could be “about a month” before he’s able to rejoin the starting rotation. Then I talked with GM Neal Huntington, who wouldn’t speculate about any sort of timetable for the right-hander’s return.

“Hopefully, I’ll be back in about a month,” Ohlendorf said. “But it’s still too early to really know for sure.”

Said Huntington: “It’s more day to day.”

Ohlendorf hasn’t pitched since April 8, when he pulled himself out of a game against the Rockies after feeling discomfort near his shoulder blade. It’s the same spot and type of pain, he said, that kept him out of action for the final month last season.

I’m inclined to believe Ohlendorf’s expectation of spending another month on the disabled list. He’s limited to doing soft-toss, throwing every other day. (His next scheduled toss is Tuesday, when he’ll throw from 75 feet.) Once he gets stretched out to 120 feet, Ohlendorf can begin throwing bullpen sessions. After that, he’ll need a game or two in the minors.

The question is, if Ohlendorf is out until at least mid-May, what do the Pirates do in the meantime about a fifth starter? For that answer, you’ll have to plop down a coupla quarters and buy tomorrow’s Trib (or be a freeloader and read it online!)

»»» Manager Clint Hurdle said he benched slumping slugger Pedro Alvarez tonight because there’s a “disconnect” between what Alvarez is working on in batting practice and what he’s doing at the plate in games.

Hurdle didn’t want to divulge any details. Neither did Alvarez, who dodged reporters for more than an hour before the game until the clubhouse was closed.

A 5-for-24 tailspin has dropped Alvarez’s batting average to .193. He leads the National League with 20 strikeouts in 57 at-bats.

One person I talked to noted that Alvarez has a long swing, which can be good for generating power but also bad for making contact. He seems uncomfortable at the plate lately, as if he’s having trouble picking up the spin and speed of pitches. His timing seems off against fastballs, which can lead to more trouble against breaking balls.

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