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Pirates cut ties with McLouth, promote Hague

| Friday, May 25, 2012, 2:32 p.m.
Nate McLouth talks with home plate umpire Jim Wolf after he was called out on strikes with the bases loaded to end the first inning of the baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, May 6, 2012, in Pittsburgh. Associated Press
Nate McLouth has had a rough time at the plate this season. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
The Pirates' Nate McLouth has had a rough-going at the plate this season. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Pirates' Nate McLouth (2) paces around home plate after a swinging strike against the Arizona Diamondbacks during an MLB baseball game Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Pirates have plenty of offensive issues other than Nate McLouth.

“He's not the reason our offense hasn't produced,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There's no one man that's tied to this.”

The Pirates cut ties Friday with McLouth, designating the slumping former All-Star outfielder for assignment and recalling corner infielder Matt Hague from Triple-A Indianapolis.

McLouth, who signed a one-year, free-agent deal for $1.75 million in his return to Pittsburgh, was hitting .140 with no home runs and two RBI in 34 games. He was hitless in his past 20 at-bats and 0 for 13 as a pinch hitter this year.

Hague, 26, started at first base and hit sixth last night against the Cubs. Hurdle said the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Hague, who went 1 for 9 in five games with the Pirates in early April, will get “consistent at-bats” at first base.

The team's current first basemen, free-agent signee Casey McGehee (.186, no home runs, five RBI) and Garrett Jones (.219), will see their playing time slashed.

“They have been put on pause,” Hurdle said. “They will have to find different opportunities. That's never easy. But we've got to find a different way across the living room from an offensive standpoint, and this is one of the decisions we made.”

Hurdle said the Pirates offered to send McLouth to the minors, but the 30-year-old former Gold Glove winner instead will “try to see it through another way.”

Hague was hitting .326 in his past 10 games after a slow start at Indy.

“When I was first sent down to Triple-A, I was trying to do too much,” he said.

Paul Maholm is back in the city that he never really wanted to leave. The left-hander will start against his former team tonight. Maholm, 29, who signed with the Cubs after the Pirates declined to exercise a $9.75 million club option, is 4-3 with a 4.73 ERA. He went 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA in four starts from April 21 to May 9. “It's going to be different,” he said. “While I was here, I did everything possible to succeed. I wanted to be part of the team that won. Unfortunately, as a group, for my career, we didn't get it done.”

• Maholm isn't the only Cubs player with Pittsburgh ties. Former Pine-Richland star Blake Lalli was promoted from Triple-A Iowa last week after catcher Geovany Soto had knee surgery. The left-handed hitting catcher, who had a two-run single Monday at Houston for his first major league hit, was Neil Walker's high school teammate.

— John Grupp

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