Even as the Pirates were pounding Cincinnati 9-3 Monday night to take three of four from the Reds, the franchise's top power prospect in a decade sat in the dugout.
Pedro Alvarez, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft three years ago, was told to sit and watch after opening the season with a .193 average and a big-league-high 20 strikeouts in 57 at-bats. No matter the pitcher, no matter the situation, he just keeps coming up empty.
"We're just trying to help him find his way back to some consistency on offense," manager Clint Hurdle said. "His recovery time hasn't been what you want at this level. Every hitter's going to go through some periods when you're down."
Hurdle, who was Texas' hitting coach last season, has taken Alvarez under his wing personally, working on a more consistent bat path that will allow Alvarez better contact. Hurdle's thinking is that Alvarez has enough natural power that he doesn't need to swing out of his shoes to hit the ball hard.
Alvarez probably will play Tuesday in Florida, Hurdle strongly hinted. And that lines up with Alvarez's history where he rewards patience: At every level coming up through the minors, he got off to slow starts -- sometimes outright miserable starts -- but he would take off once locked in. This is Alvarez's first full year in the majors.
Alvarez's place in the lineup and at third base was taken Monday by Steve Pearce, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI singles as part of the rout. The Pirates as a whole had season highs for runs and hits (15), as they improved to 8-8. That's a rare peak at .500 for a franchise that has not had a winning record since 1992.
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