Bobby Hill doesn't envision himself as a career pinch hitter at 26, but he took the opportunity to…
Pittsburgh Pirates Roster Report
1B/OF Daryle Ward went on the 15-day DL retroactive to Saturday (June 26) with a sprained ligament in his right thumb. Ward is hitting .276 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 44 games.
OF Tony Alvarez was recalled from Nashville, where he was hitting .308 with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 66 games.
OF J.J. Davis was activated after a successful 19-game injury rehabilitation stint at Triple-A Nashville in which he hit .273 with seven homers and 15 RBIs.
To clear a roster spot, OF Ruben Mateo was designated for assignment. He hit .242 with three homers and seven RBIs in 19 games.
PITCHING TRENDS: Pirates starters had a fine 2.48 ERA in their turn through the five-man starting rotation going into this week.
PITCHERS TO WATCH:
RHP Kip Wells checked out fine after making a strong start Friday (June 25) at Cincinnati following a 12-day layoff because of irritation of the middle finger of his pitching hand. He reported no soreness or numbness in the finger, a sign the new medication he began taking a week earlier is working.
Wells allowed only two runs on three hits in 6 2/3 innings and was in line for a win until the bullpen blew a 4-0 lead after he left the game. Wells took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and a shutout into the seventh.
LHP Oliver Perez hasn't won a game in six weeks, but that isn't entirely his fault.
Perez is 0-3 with four no-decisions since May 13, but he certainly pitched well enough to win Saturday (June 26) at Cincinnati. He tied a career high with 13 strikeouts in seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and walking three.
That was the most strikeouts by a Pirates pitcher since Jose DeLeon fanned 14 New York Mets in 1985.
Perez entered the week leading the major leagues in strikeouts per nine innings with 10.76.
LHP Sean Burnett will get the chance to be a permanent member of the starting rotation, and RHP Ryan Vogelsong was shifted to the bullpen. Burnett, a rookie, has gone 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA as a starter but impressed the Pirates with his poise.
RHP Josh Fogg has picked up the pace after a slow start. He has won five of his last seven decisions after tying a career low with four straight losses.
LINEUP LOWDOWN: The Pirates turned on the power the last two weeks. They had hit 30 homers in their last 15 games entering the week.
POSITION PLAYERS TO WATCH:
1B Randall Simon will get increased playing time with 1B/OF Daryle Ward on the DL. Simon has had a miserable season, hitting just .237 in only 59 at-bats since coming off the DL on May 27 after missing a month with a strained hamstring. Simon, though, did show signs of life on the day Ward was placed on the DL. Simon's ninth-inning homer Saturday (June 26) gave the Pirates a 1-0 win at Cincinnati, and he had his first multiple-hit game since June 10.
C Jason Kendall continues to be an iron man, having started 30 straight games since May 28, the day backup C Humberto Cota went on the DL with a strained side muscle.
Kendall has caught all but 63 innings this season. Cota has logged 57 innings, and C/1B/OF Craig Wilson has caught six innings.
LF Jason Bay is staring to emerge as an NL Rookie of the Year candidate after missing the first month of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Bay has hit seven homers in June and went into the week on a 12-for-32 (.375) streak.
SS Jack Wilson figures to be the Pirates' representative on the NL squad at this year's All-Star Game. Wilson entered the week with a league-leading 103 hits and .339 batting average.
MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Brian Boehringer (right shoulder tendinitis) is on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 2. He has felt pain in his shoulder while throwing, and the Pirates don't have a timetable for his return. C Humberto Cota (strained oblique muscle in left side) is on the 15-day DL retroactive to May 28. He is able to catch and throw but has not been cleared to hit, leaving his return date undecided. LHP Mike Johnston (left elbow inflammation) is on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 22 and is expected to return right after the All-Star break. INF Freddy Sanchez (bone spur in right ankle) is on the 15-day DL as he recovers from November surgery. He is on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Nashville and is hitting .100 with two RBIs in five games. Sanchez is likely to stay with the Sounds until his 20-day assignment ends July 9. 1B/OF Daryle Ward (sprained ligament in right thumb) is on the DL retroactive to June 26 and is expected to return right after the All-Star break.
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