Pirates option Alvarez to Triple-A

The Pittsburgh Pirates activated slugging third baseman Pedro

Alvarez from the disabled list on Saturday and immediately optioned

him to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Alvarez, the 2008 No. 2 overall draft pick who was in his first

full major league season, had been on the disabled list since May

20 with a right quadriceps strain.

”Pedro remains a big part of our future,” general manager Neal

Huntington said, ”but we believe making this move is the best way

to get him back on track offensively and defensively so that he can

help us win games at the major league level.”

Alvarez was hitting .208 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 36

games this season after hitting 16 home runs in 347 at-bats as a

rookie last season.

The 24-year-old Alvarez had 11 strikeouts and two extra-base

hits (both doubles) in 33 at bats over 11 games with Class A

Bradenton and Indianapolis as part of his rehabilitation

assignment.

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said the organization wanted to

take the pressure of returning to the majors off of Alvarez and

have him focus solely on improving.

”We needed a volume of at-bats strung together that has noting

to do with home runs, OPS, slugging percentage,” Hurdle said.

”Where (Alvarez is) squaring the ball up hard and hitting it where

it’s pitched. That’s what we want (him) to focus on.”

Brandon Wood and rookies Josh Harrison and Chase d’Arnaud have

been splitting the playing time at third base with Alvarez out.

Alvarez has been one of the centerpieces of the Pirates’ latest

rebuilding effort. Mired in a string of 18 consecutive losing

seasons and coming off 105 losses last season, Pittsburgh (46-42)

has had its best pre-All-star break record since 1992.

But it’s been mostly pitching that has the Pirates within a game

of first place as play began Saturday. The team ranks 12th in the

National League in runs, 13th in home runs and 15th in slugging

percentage. Alvarez is one of the few pure power hitters in the

organization.