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GM: Alvarez needs MLB playing time

Pedro Alvarez hasn't played since Thursday due to inflammation in his left knee (Getty Images photo)

Pedro Alvarez hasn't played since Thursday due to inflammation in his left knee (Getty Images photo)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — It was not quite a message of unconditional support, but it was close. A few minutes ago, as the final notes of the National Anthem faded on the P.A. system at Osceola Sports Complex, GM Neal Huntington insisted the Pirates are not considering sending slumping third baseman Pedro Alvarez to Triple-A Indy to start the season.

“We’ll see where he is health-wise,” Huntington began. “But, the rumors of him starting at Triple-A have never come from the Pirates. It’s been outside speculation. It’s not what we’ve thought (of doing). We asked him to do some things coming into spring training. He’s done those. He’s going through a tough stretch right now. Are we going to be able to get him out of it? We believe we will.”

Huntington was asked whether Alvarez would benefit from more playing time in the minors. “There are times when guys are able to get away with flaws at Triple-A that they can’t get away with at the major league level,” Huntington said. “He may be one of those guys. We can’t put too much stock in Triple-A performance, good or bad, or spring training performance, good or bad. He did what he needed to do this offseason, he’s in good physical shape. For a long time this spring, he was swinging the bat well; he’s gone through a tough stretch (recently). It’s not the first or last time he’s going to go through a tough stretch. The microscope just happens to be a lot sharper on Pedro right now. He just needs to relax and play. The ability is there. He’s going to be a good big league player. He’s going to be a threat in the batter’s box. He’s got to let it play.”

Management had hoped to get Alvarez a lot of at-bats down the stretch, but he hasn’t played since Thursday due to what the team says is minor soreness in his left knee. There is a chance he might get in some swings Monday in a camp game at Pirate City.

In 13 spring training games, Alvarez is batting .133 with two homers and three RBI. He has struck out in 13 of his 31 plate appearances. His on-base percentage is .156. Those poor numbers are similar to where he was at the end of the 2011 season, which was interrupted by a quad injury and a rehab stint at Indy.

“We don’t want to respond over-the-top to either good or bad (stats),” Huntington said. “Certainly, there are some areas of concern. There’s been some positive signs as well. How do we best put him and us in a position to be successful? Right now, the knee doesn’t seem to be that big of an issue. We’ve got to make sure we handle it conservatively and put him in a position to be successful, and get him the necessary at-bats to get him going.”



  1. Sam says:

    I don’t disagree that he NEEDS MLB playing time, but telling a young player who hasn’t proven anything in the majors that he is making the team no matter what? He needs to deliver. If he doesn’t, send him to Indianapolis.

  2. BobHawaii says:

    I agree. It certainly sends a mixed message to every other player on the team. In other words, “There are rules for everyone, and then there are rules regarding Pedro.” Everyone else has to prove that they deserve to be on the team, with Pedro it’s a given. I’m also tired of hearing how much money we have invested in him.. He was rushed to the majors because we were so woefully short of prospects. We are cheating him and fooling ourselves if we throw him out there everyday to be humiliated by major league pitching.

  3. joel says:

    Neal admit your mistake, last year when Fatty Pedro was in the minors he should hsave been switched to firstbase. He is and always be a butcher at 3rd.

  4. Chuck H. says:

    If you are going to give Pedro some MLB playing time, do it either when you’re way ahead or hopelessly way behind in the game. He can’t possibly help with his hitting or
    rock hands at third. I agree that he should be swiitched to first base or outfield.

  5. Tony says:

    If NH is serious about Pedro Alvarez being handed the 3B job, in obvious defiance of his spring training performance (nothwithstanding his awful 2011 performance), is perhaps the defining moment in the Pirates 2012 season. Such a decision demonstrates the organization’s utter lack of objectivity when it comes to its “emotional investment” in the former first round draft pick.

    PA needed to perform notably better in spring training to merit a roster slot let alone a starting position. PA striking out a rate of 1 in 3 ABs will cost the Pirates games; the failure to get on base, the failure to move up runners etc, etc, etc. The Pirates will hit him in the number 6 position, an absolute key batting order position for driving runs in (Barajas will bat 7th and Barmes 8th). The batting average is one thing, the Ks are even more devastating when failing in the #6 slot in the order.

    I don’t get management here. Certainly, the fans are not clamoring to see Pedro Alvarez play every day. What the fans want more than anything else is a winning season and now.

    I’m not suggesting that the organization give up on PA, I’m just saying that now is not the time to reward him with a seat on the major league roster. After all, what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the organization. Not a good one.

  6. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Pedro needs to be out there everyday, unless hurt. The options are not worth sticking out there in his place to possibly gain 2 wins. If/when Pedro comes around and becomes what his potential was, he’s an everyday 30/100 guy.

    This is make or break, sink or swim year for Pedro. Sending him to AAA to work on things is not in either the Pirates or Pedro’s best interest. He’s already proven he can hit AAA. He needs to prove it at the MLB level.

    Though fielding, his future is at 1B. But Aramis Rameriez turned out to be a decent 3B over the years. That’s the level of play Pedro could be at and the only way to get there, is by playing at the highest level.

    Let’s get em Pedro!

  7. Wayne says:

    With Alvarez and the pitcher in the lineup, that is two automatic outs. After a couple of weeks, it is going to get ugly @ PNC.

  8. John Lease says:

    Eesh. Well, at what point does he go down in disgrace?

    Does he make it to May?

  9. Employee#8 says:

    The Pirates need to fight a lot harder for each of their wins. Putting a zero-tool player at 3B really hurts a team that already struggles to hit, field, and run the bases. Hague can hit for power, Harrison can hit for average and field (sort of), McGahee isn’t good, but much better than k-dro.

    The guy is 25. He had one good month in 2010. He will bury this team in close games with his strikeouts, GIDP, and awful fielding. No room for underperformers and Great Deal Neal’s huge, outrageous ego. Send them both to the minors.

  10. piratemike says:

    I just don’t understand why all of you people arn’t GM’s somewhere.

    The Pirates have a huge financial and baseball investment in this guy.

    I’m sure that the front office is not happy with Pedro but they have 6 million reasons to try everything they can do to get something out of this guy, sitting in AAA hitting against guys like Brian Burress and Jo Jo Reyes isn’t going to make it happen. I too would rather have Harrison, McGehee or Navarro at 3rd but they have to bite the bullet and hope that Pedro turns it around.

  11. wdmason says:

    If it were up to me I would send him back to AA and let him start over. Let him learn to make contact and work his way up to AAA. I dont see how playing him in the majors in games that count will help him or the team when he is obviously completely lost. I hope he can pull himself up and out of this funk but it wont happen if he is continually treated as our next savior. Right now hes a bust and the sooner HE realizes it, the better.

  12. Ernest says:

    McGehee isn’t good???? Have you actually looked at his #’s for ’09 & ’10???? Last year was pretty bad, but given what he did the 2 years prior he’d be a good candidate for a bounce-back year. Picking him up for a 30 year old relief pitcher coming off a career year was a decent move I think.

  13. pageman99 says:

    The goal is to win championships. Mgmt is aware of this. PA is a key piece. This year isn’t likely unless many pieces fall into place. Hence PA needs to play. It’s much too early to put him on the scrap heap or play him in AAA only to see him struggle again when brought up.

    He has the tools to be a 30/100 player on a consistent basis. I don’t like where he’s at, however he needs to develop his tools at the major league level. If the Pirates were a consistent contender a la St. Louis they have more to lose by his presence in the lineup. They aren’t, so what better time to have him grow than when the whole team is growing?

  14. Isaiah says:

    Pedro has nothing left to prove in AAA, so he might as well get his hacks at the big league level

  15. Gh33 says:

    It is possible that most of what’s wrong with Pedro is between his ears. He’s been so royally screwed up by TPTB that he can’t think straight. “Lose weight, get in better shape, improve flexibility, blah, blah …”

    Send him to the buffet table, trot him over to 1b, and find out whether he can hit or not. I’d rather not see him 45 homers some year for another team.

  16. cosmo says:

    because the pirates invested 6 million in him guaratees him a spot on the team???? whatever happened to earning your spot(Hague).

  17. Ron says:

    Hague at first and Navarro at third. They have earned those jobs. Pedro has earned a trip to Indy.

  18. Dr. Gunner says:

    Sufferin’ catfish!!

    As painful as it is, we have to stay with PA a while longer before he turns into the next Jose Bautista. People forget that PA is not the first Pirate to have a major challenge adapting to the big leagues. In 1989, no. 1 draft choice Jeff King’s Bucco debut produced a less than stellar .195 batting average and he didn’t have a really good season until 1993. King ended up becoming a decent major leaguer. And, then, in 1963, Willie Stargell struggled most of the season around the Mendoza line but, with a late season surge, finished with a .247 batting average with only 11 HRs. By the way, Willie ended up in the Hall of Fame, didn’t he?.

    Let’s hope PA works out his issues and worst case, lands somewhere in between of King and Stargell ability-wise. If he does, the Bucs will have a pretty good ballplayer. Hang in there!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Rick says:

    I think the main reason people on here are down on PA (myself included) is his refusal to play winter ball. It comes across like he knows better than the coaching staff. Then, when he struggles early like he has, my first thought is, “shoulda listened to the coaches and played winter ball.” So, he kinda put himself in this spot. And if he struggles once the season starts, the blue collar fan in Pittsburgh is gonna be all over him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always hoping for the best for our team, but I do wonder what it will be like for PA if it starts bad for him. Just my opinion, right or wrong

  20. wdmason says:

    Whos says he can hit AAA? Im not sure at this point. Something may have changed.

  21. The Gabster says:

    Pedro has all the physical tools, that is a given. But he is so lost at the plate right now that he will probably not get it back just by getting major league hacks. At what price to the team’s success do you let this take place? How do you think the fans will react as he goes through his struggles while the team gets no production from that spot in the order? Is this fair to Clint Hurdle and the players that have been given their shot and produced? What message are you sending to the fans and the whole organization? This is not about the team, this is about Neal Huntington!

  22. The Gabster says:

    Pedro never got the time at AAA that He needed, some people don’t need it. If you send Pedro back to AAA and give him a chance to DOMINATE, you might just salvage him and he can become the player he was projected to be. Then when he gets his next shot the fans will be behind him again. If Huntington ramrods this through to save face, poor Pedro will have to put up big numbers right away or he will get booed out of the stadium, and that is not fair to Pedro. All the booes should be meant for Huntington, Pedro is trying.

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